Forman, Hoffman, McGrath, Herbert, Brandsma, & Lowe, 2007

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APA Citation: 

Forman, E. M., Hoffman, K. L., McGrath, K. B., Herbert, J. D., Brandsma, L. L., & Lowe, M. R. (2007). A comparison of acceptance- and control-based strategies for coping with food cravings: An analog study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, 2372-2386.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Acceptance; Acceptance and commitment therapy; Cognitive therapy; Obesity; Weight loss; Weight control; Weight maintenance; Food cravings

The present study utilized an analog paradigm to investigate the effectiveness of two strategies for coping with food cravings, which was theorized to be critical to the maintenance of weight loss. Ninety-eight undergraduate students were given transparent boxes of chocolate Hershey’s Kisses and instructed to keep the chocolates with them, but not to eat them, for 48 h. Before receiving the Kisses, participants were randomized to receive either (a) no intervention, (b) instruction in control-based coping strategies such as distraction and cognitive restructuring, or (c) instruction in acceptance-based strategies such as experiential acceptance and defusion techniques. Measures included the Power of Food Scale (PFS; a measure of psychological sensitivity to the food environment), self-report ratings of chocolate cravings and surreptitiously recorded chocolate consumption. Results suggested that the effect of the intervention depended on baseline PFS levels, such that acceptance-based strategies were associated with better outcomes (cravings, consumption) among those reporting the highest susceptibility to the presence of food, but greater cravings among those who scored lowest on the PFS. It was observed that craving self-report measures predicted chocolate consumption, and baseline PFS levels predicted both cravings and consumption. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for weight loss maintenance strategies.

98 participants with chocolate cravings were exposed to a CBT-based protocol and an ACT-based protocol or no instructions and required to carry chocolate with them of for two days. Those more impacted by food related cues ate less and had fewer cravings in the ACT condition.
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