Monday, July 22, 2024

Cravings, not thirst, drive consumption

Craving a glass of wine or a cold beer at the end of the day may not seem unusual but people can also experience cravings for soft drinks and coffee, according to new research.

Led by Flinders University PhD student Joshua McGreen, the study found the number of cravings a person experiences can indicate how many soft drinks they would eventually drink, with cravings triggered by a number of factors beyond thirst.

What triggers cravings?

Published in the journal Eating Behaviours, the study analysed data from 128 participants aged between 17 and 25 years old, who completed a craving diary and daily consumption measure over a one-week period.

Cravings were reported for a range of beverages, including tea, juice and flavoured milk, but by far the most craved drinks were water, coffee and soft drink.

Tiredness was found to be the most common craving trigger for coffee. For soft drinks, visual clues such as advertising or seeing other people having a drink were the most common triggers, followed by food and then thirst.

When investigating the link between cravings and consumption, stronger cravings were shown to be associated with a greater likelihood of drinking more – especially for soft drink.

Water the exception

Water was both the most craved beverage and the most consumed, with thirst being the most common trigger.

“Although water may not be considered a substance that is typically craved, the participants clearly experienced a strong desire to consume it, in line with the World Health Organization’s formal definition of craving,” says Mr McGreen.

However, the number of cravings for water during the week did not indicate how much would be drunk. Instead, that was predicted by how much participants liked water and whether they were male.

“This contrasts to coffee and soft drink, where the number of cravings for each predicted how much would be drunk over the week,” says Mr McGreen.

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