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disorder (BED), again no significant difference in BMI was found between binge eaters and non-BED subjects (65). Obesity and Depression

Chocolate is often cited as a high-carbohydrate food which obese carbohydrate cravers select in an attempt to reduce depression (66, 67). However, as Drewnowski et al. (35) have suggested, foods which have been targeted by carbohydrate cravers are more accurately described as sugar/fat mixtures (e.g. chocolate candies, chocolate bars, cakes, cookies and ice cream). The self-medicating theory of carbohydrate craving suggests that the obese, premenstrual and individuals suffering from seasonal affective disorder select foods high in carbohydrates in order to increase the availability of tryptophan across the bloodbrain barrier, thereby increasing the synthesis of serotonin. However, cravings for foods which are more effective in promoting tryptophan uptake, such as rice, potatoes and pasta, are less likely to be reported than foods which are high in sugar and fat, such as chocolate. Therefore, it remains unclear whether such cravings among obese consumers and others reflects a serotonin deficiency or a simple desire for highly palatable treats to 'cheer themselves up'.

Weight Control and Chocolate Cravings

Chocolate is the single most craved food in studies of food cravings (34, 6870). Theoretical models used to explain chocolate cravings include abstinence and expectancy models (71). Abstinence models contend that consumers who abstain from consuming a particular food, say for health or weight reasons, are more susceptible to cravings for that particular food. Weight loss interventions have not focused on chocolate per se, rather on TEI, activity and, often, snack reduction. In the UK, chocolate is the most frequently cited reason for failure to continue with weight reduction diets (Dr E. Evans, personal communication). In relation to 'sweet' cravings frequently experienced by slimmers who are 'not allowed' sweets and chocolate, the concept of keeping within target caloric intake whilst incorporating 'a-treat-a-day' (often chocolate) has proved successful. If chocolate (in measured amounts) can be a positive aid in weight loss programmes, then this surely invalidates the idea that chocolate per se causes or maintains obesity.

Expectancy models propose that cravings for foods such as chocolate develop as a learning process in which sweet foods which are typically consumed at the end of a meal or at a particular time of day induce cravings through habitual intake patterns. Obese consumers who are following a particular dietary plan

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