Review of Research on Food Cravings Shows Hope for Substance Abuse

With concerns over rising rates of obesity in much of the western world becoming increasingly prominent, researchers are developing more thorough bodies of work on the understanding of emotional eating and cravings, issues that are thought to play a large role in weight management concerns. Recently, a review based at Flinders University in Australia has highlighted several studies that point to the potential of visual disruption to be a positive tool in the fight against food cravings, a tool that may hold promise for helping those who suffer from substance addiction issues overcome certain behavioral patterns.

The review focused on studies that examined the relationship between visual imaging and the intensity and longevity of food cravings. In one study, researchers were able to show that those participants who more precisely imagined a certain food tended to have more intense cravings. It was also found that having a vivid picture of a given food in mind made completing simple tasks such as remembering words or finishing math problems more difficult. The potential link between the visual world of food and the strength of subsequent cravings was further explored by attempts to disrupt the connection; one study presented participants with visual noise consisting of flickering dots, an action that was shown to have a diminishing effect on the power of food cravings.

By interfering with sensory fixation on a particular object, the review suggests, therapists and other professionals may be able to help clients break through challenging patterns of desire and consumption. Further research to determine if results are similar for alcohol and drugs, as well as other objects of addiction, may be planned in the future to help compliment the review and extend its findings into other areas of life affected by cravings.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • C.Brady


    May 19th, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    It is quite straight-forward,sin’t t?If we are thinking of something all the time,we ought to desire it a lot and will no be able to concentrate n other things like work.this feeling is enhanced for something like food because most people just love good food!

  • toni b

    toni b

    May 20th, 2010 at 3:10 AM

    encouraging research

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