Using confirmatory factor analysis, we cross-validated the factor structures of the Spanish versions of the State and Trait Food Cravings Questionnaires (FCQ-S and FCQ-T; Cepeda-Benito et al., 2000a) in a sample of 304 Spanish college students. Controlling for eating disorder symptoms and food deprivation, scores on the FCQ-T were higher for women than for men, but no sex differences were observed on the FCQ-S. Eating disorder symptomatology was predictive of trait cravings, whereas food deprivation was predictive state cravings. Trait cravings, but not state cravings, were more strongly associated to symptoms of anorexia and bulimia nervosa than with other psychopathology. We suggest that cravings can be conceptualized as multidimensional motivational states and that our data support the hypothesis that food cravings are strongly associated with symptoms of bulimia nervosa.

Introduction

Cravings are subjective motivational states that, in theory, promote ingestive behaviors. Similarly to the hypothesized causal relationship between drug cravings and compulsive drug use (Tiffany, 1990), the construct of food cravings has been important for theories and treatments of eating disorders. Food cravings have been blamed for binge eating in bulimia, early dropout from weight-loss treatments, over-eating in obese individuals, and the prevalence of bulimia nervosa (see review by Cepeda-Benito et al. (2000b)). The effectiveness of pharmacotherapy in reducing compulsive or binge eating has been attributed to the possibility that serotonin-enhancing drugs either block or reduce food cravings (Fluoxetine Bulimia Nervosa Collaborative Study Group, 1992). Moreover, some cogni- tive-behavioral interventions for binge eating also target cravings through cue-exposure and response-prevention methods (Bulik et al., 1990, 1998).

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