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Article

Increasing Chocolate’s Sugar Content Enhances Its Psychoactive Effects and Intake

1
USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, 2420 2nd Ave. North, Grand Forks, ND 58203-9034, USA
2
College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, 1601 Cherry St MS31030 RM 389, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1320, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(3), 596; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030596
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
Chocolate elicits unique brain activity compared to other foods, activating similar brain regions and neurobiological substrates with potentially similar psychoactive effects as substances of abuse. We sought to determine the relationship between chocolate with varying combinations of its main constituents (sugar, cocoa, and fat) and its psychoactive effects. Participants consumed 5 g of a commercially available chocolate with increasing amounts of sugar (90% cocoa, 85% cocoa, 70% cocoa, and milk chocolates). After each chocolate sample, participants completed the Psychoactive Effects Questionnaire (PEQ). The PEQ consists of questions taken from the Morphine-Benzedrine Group (MBG), Morphine (M,) and Excitement (E) subscales of the Addiction Research Center Inventory. After all testing procedures, participants completed the Binge Eating Scale (BES) while left alone and allowed to eat as much as they wanted of each of the different chocolates. We found a measurable psychoactive dose–effect relationship with each incremental increase in the chocolate’s sugar content. The total number of positive responses and the number of positive responses on the E subscale began increasing after tasting the 90% cocoa chocolate, whereas the number of positive responses on the MBG and M subscales began increasing after tasting the 85% cocoa chocolate sample. We did not find a correlation between BES scores and the total amount of chocolate consumed or self-reported scores on the PEQ. These results suggest that each incremental increase in chocolate’s sugar content enhances its psychoactive effects. These results extend our understanding of chocolate’s appeal and unique ability to prompt an addictive-like eating response. View Full-Text
Keywords: chocolate; Addiction Research Center Inventory; sugar; craving; addictive-like eating; eating behavior chocolate; Addiction Research Center Inventory; sugar; craving; addictive-like eating; eating behavior
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MDPI and ACS Style

Casperson, S.L.; Lanza, L.; Albajri, E.; Nasser, J.A. Increasing Chocolate’s Sugar Content Enhances Its Psychoactive Effects and Intake. Nutrients 2019, 11, 596. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030596

AMA Style

Casperson SL, Lanza L, Albajri E, Nasser JA. Increasing Chocolate’s Sugar Content Enhances Its Psychoactive Effects and Intake. Nutrients. 2019; 11(3):596. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030596

Chicago/Turabian Style

Casperson, Shanon L., Lisa Lanza, Eram Albajri, and Jennifer A. Nasser. 2019. "Increasing Chocolate’s Sugar Content Enhances Its Psychoactive Effects and Intake" Nutrients 11, no. 3: 596. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11030596

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