The Association Between Anxiety Sensitivity and Food Cravings among Individuals Seeking Treatment for Weight-Related Behaviors



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Obesity is a chronic and highly prevalent condition in the United States. In an effort to address the management and prevention of obesity, it is important to understand motivational processes that may guide maladaptive eating processes and contribute to or maintain weight gain. Existing work has shown anxiety sensitivity (AS) to be a significant risk factor for increased cravings across a variety of health behaviors (e.g., smoking, alcohol use). Yet, no work has examined the relationship between AS and state-like food cravings. Therefore, the current study sought to examine the association between AS and a variety of state-like food cravings, including: (1) an intense desire to eat, (2) anticipation of relief from negative states and feelings/improvement in mood that may result from eating, (3) obsessive preoccupation with food or lack of control over eating, and (4) craving as a physiological state. Participants included 161 (Mage = 31.58, SD = 10.71; 60.9% female) individuals seeking treatment for weight-related behaviors. Results indicated that elevated AS was associated with reinforcement-based and physiological food cravings. Our findings indicate that there may be clinical utility in screening for AS among individuals seeking treatment for weight-related behaviors.



Anxiety Sensitivity, Food Cravings, Obesity