Why We Crave

Food cravings activate the same reward circuits in the brain as cravings for drugs or alcohol, according to functional MRI scans, tests that measure brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow.

For decades, researchers surmised that food cravings were the body’s subconscious effort to correct nutritional deficiencies…But a growing body of research casts doubt on the nutritional-deficiency notion.

Instead, studies show that food cravings involve a complex mix of social, cultural and psychological factors, heavily influenced by environmental cues.

Research on the relationship among food, mood and behavior in the WSJ.

Comments (9)

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  1. Nichole says:

    This must be the research base for weight watchers

  2. Kyle says:

    This was a very interesting article. So giving in to temptation is the answer? Monastic orders everywhere must be in a tiff.

  3. Buster says:

    If cravings are not evidence your body needs certain nutrients, why do pregnant women crave strange foods more than non-pregnant people?

  4. Robert says:

    I can certainly attest to the fact that after some good hard exercise I am craving carbs and protein.

  5. Ender says:

    I probably agree with this study. If I crave football, wings and beer it probably has to do with the association of the three in multi layered social system that can justify my craving.

  6. Lucy Hender says:

    While many women report craving salt, fat or bizarre combinations of food during pregnancy, researchers can’t find much scientific validation.
    In the U.S., about 50% of women who crave chocolate say their cravings peak around the onset of their monthly period. But researchers haven’t found any correlation between food cravings and hormone levels, and postmenopausal women don’t report a big drop in chocolate cravings, a 2009 survey found.

    I’ve always thought that Americans like to find “reasons” to justify certains things they do but that they know they shouldn’t be doing. These two statements above reinforce my thinking. Perhaps a solution for the increasing obesity numbers would be to stop making excuses for our cravings and simply eat healthy and exercise. Our society and our culture will always influence our lifestyle and our choices…but it’s up to us what we decide to do.

  7. August says:

    I’d like to see doctors applying evidence like this to fight obesity.

  8. Alex says:

    It’s fascinating the way brain chemistry works.

  9. seyyed says:

    thats very interesting. i think its true that food cravings are a major cause of obesity, but what caused our generation to have such cravings considering half a century ago there was no problem with overeating or obesity as there is today