Prior work suggests that actual, but not estimated, energy density drives the reinforcing value of food and that energy from fat and carbohydrate can interact to potentiate reward. Here we sought to replicate these findings in an American sample and to determine if the effects are influenced by body mass index (BMI). Thirty participants with healthy weight (HW; BMI 21.92 ± 1.77; M ± SD) and 30 participants with overweight/obesity (OW/OB; BMI 29.42 ± 4.44) rated pictures of common American snacks in 120-kcal portions for liking, familiarity, frequency of consumption, expected satiety, healthiness, energy content, energy density, and price. Participants then completed an auction task where they bid for the opportunity to consume each food. Snacks contained either primarily carbohydrate, primarily fat, or roughly equal portions of fat and carbohydrate (combo). Replicating prior work, we found that participants with HW bid the most for combo foods in linear mixed model analyses. This effect was not observed among individuals with OW/OB. Additionally, in contrast with previous reports, our linear regression analyses revealed a negative relationship between the actual energy density of the snacks and bid amount that was mediated by food price. Our findings support altered macronutrient reinforcement in obesity and highlight potential influences of the food environment on the regulation of food reward.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This research was supported by the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. The work of AGD was conducted with the support of the iTHRIV Scholars Program. The iTHRIV Scholars Program is supported in part by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers UL1TR003015 and KL2TR003016.
The following are available online at https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/4/1203/s1. Table S1: Descriptive statistics for subjective ratings and WTP for foods across the three macronutrient categories from participants with HW; Table S2: Descriptive statistics for subjective ratings and WTP for foods across the three macronutrient categories from participants with OW/OB; Table S3: Descriptive statistics and unpaired, two-sample t-tests on the DFS subscores and internal state ratings across BMI groups; Table S4: BMI group interactions in the regressions between WTP, actual energy density, and estimated energy density, tested on averages per food across participants with HW versus OW/OB; Table S5: Correlations between actual energy density and characteristics and subjective ratings of foods in the combo category, tested on averages per food item across all participants; Table S6: Testing if the relationships of food volume and expected satiety with energy density differ across pairwise comparisons of foods in the three macronutrient categories; Table S7: Participant characteristics of the independent cohort for testing the modified picture set with varying food portions. Figure S1: Fitted scatter plots comparing each food characteristic and subjective rating with actual energy density; Figure S2: Fitted scatter plots comparing each food characteristic and subjective rating with WTP; Figure S3: Fitted scatter plots comparing each characteristic and subjective rating with actual energy density for foods pictured in varying portions; Figure S4: Fitted scatter plots comparing each characteristic and subjective rating with WTP for foods pictured in varying portions.
The above materials are also available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.
Perszyk, Emily E.; Hutelin, Zach; Trinh, Jessica; Kanyamibwa, Arsene; Fromm, Sophie; Davis, Xue S.; Wall, Kathryn M.; Flack, Kyle D.; DiFeliceantonio, Alexandra G.; and Small, Dana M., "Fat and Carbohydrate Interact to Potentiate Food Reward in Healthy Weight but Not in Overweight or Obesity" (2021). Dietetics and Human Nutrition Faculty Publications. 34.