Interventions for reducing food cravings: A systematic literature review.

Sophie Schumacher, Eva Kemps, Marika Tiggemann

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Food cravings have been associated with several negative health consequences, including negative emotions such as guilt and shame, impaired cognition and early dropout from weight-loss programs. Of particular concern is that they can trigger binge eating episodes, which are a precursor to disordered eating and obesity. In response, researchers have developed and tested a range of interventions for reducing food cravings, but their comparative efficacy has not yet been reviewed.
The aim of the present review was to systematically evaluate food craving reduction strategies, in order to identify the most effective techniques and conditions, and identify knowledge gaps to address in future research. Suitable publications were identified in a search of databases (Scopus, Ovid and Sage) conducted in January 2018. Eligible studies used human adult participants, used a technique to reduce food cravings, included a measure of food cravings, and a control or comparison condition. The final review included 40 publications comprising 49 individual studies.
Results showed that imagery-based techniques most consistently reduced food cravings, followed by mindfulness-based techniques that were taught over several training sessions. Other techniques, such as cognitive reappraisal and physical activity, showed promise, but have not been widely researched.
Many of the techniques successful in reducing cravings have the potential to be incorporated into daily life and clinical settings. In particular, imagery- and mindfulness-based interventions could be useful adjuncts to cognitive-behavioural therapy for tackling craving-driven problem eating.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event9th World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. - Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 17 Jul 201920 Jul 2019


Conference9th World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.


  • Food cravings
  • negative emotions
  • weight loss programs
  • Binge eating
  • eating disorders


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