Does negative mood drive the urge to eat? The contribution of negative mood, exposure to food cues and eating style

Natalie J. Loxton*, Sharon Dawe, Allison Cahill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


The current study investigated whether negative mood alone, or in conjunction with exposure to food cues, influences the urge to eat. Female participants (N = 160) were allocated to either a negative or neutral mood induction procedure followed by exposure to either a preferred food cue or a non-food cue. Participants reported their urge to eat at baseline, following the mood induction procedure, and following the cue exposure, as well as completing measures of restrained and disinhibited eating. Contrary to prediction, urge to eat decreased following the mood induction procedure for those in the negative mood condition. This was not influenced by eating style (i.e., restrained or disinhibited eaters). Urge to eat subsequently increased following exposure to the food, but not the non-food, cue. This effect was moderated by negative mood and eating style with disinhibited eating being positively associated with urge to eat for those women in the negative mood condition. These findings suggest that negative mood plays a role in the tendency to overeat, but only in the context of personally desirable food cues and for a subgroup of women with a history of disinhibited eating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-374
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • disinhibited
  • eating
  • negative mood induction
  • food cue exposure

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