Researcher yearns to understand food cravings

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Researcher yearns to understand food cravings


Published on 14 August 2013

University of Sunshine Coast Psychology Honours student Danni Ward is conducting research which she hopes will reveal which foods are most likely to trigger cravings and attention loss.

Ms Ward, 23, of Marcoola said she was looking at 24 different types of healthy and unhealthy foods to see which ones most affected the cognitive ability of men and women.

Her research, which is being supervised by Lecturer in Psychology Dr Kate Mulgrew, has so far shown that chocolate, fruit, vegetables and meat were the foods that most participants craved.

“There is a big misconception that if an individual is suffering from a food craving that it must be something bad for you,” she said.

“We have found this simply isn’t the case. A large percentage of participants, especially women, crave healthy foods. Men were found to be the ones who crave the unhealthiest foods.”

The ongoing research, which requires further volunteer participants, will assess how food cravings affect information processing and how other factors affect this relationship.

“Some cravings are so intense, they can completely interrupt an individual’s cognitive function until the food craving becomes the singular train of thought,” she said.

Previously, many food craving studies have focused on one unhealthy food and its relationship with women. This study hopes to show that men also experience food cravings and that both men and women can experience a reduction in cognitive function.

Ms Ward previously completed a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at USC.

Those interested in participating in the study can email

— Jessica Halls

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