A total of 61 young female participants participated in the study to determine their food craving experiences in the span of one week. The study required an ecological momentary assessment of the participants—during which they noted down their craving intensity, snack consumption and snack-related thoughts five times a day.
Food craving is a strong desire to consume a specific type of food, and many experience this regularly. However, there are differences in the frequency and intensity of food craving experiences, which is termed as ‘trait food craving’.
The study revealed 86 percent of snacks consumed by the participants were high-caloric, with treats containing chocolate consumed the most. The women had thoughts about snacks 5.75 times a day on average, with chocolate being the predominant treat that they thought about.
The connection between craving intensity and thoughts about snacks was stronger in individuals who are high trait food cravers, as compared to those who are low trait food cravers. Higher craving intensity was associated with more consumption of snacks. The study also demonstrated high trait food cravers are likely to think more often about high-calorie snacks in their daily lives, and consume more snacks.
The participants consumed snacks 2.67 times a day on average, demonstrating that not all thoughts about food lead to snack consumption. When appetising foods were made available to the participants, or when they were experiencing hunger pangs, the cravings then influenced the level of consumption more directly.
The rate of snack consumption amongst young women translates to opportunities for chocolate manufacturers to produce snacks containing chocolate to fulfil their cravings. As consumers are increasingly health conscious, chocolate products containing functional ingredients are likely to be more popular.