Acute tryptophan depletion and sweet food consumption by overweight adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; *Body Mass Index; Dietary Carbohydrates; Dietary Proteins; Double-Blind Method; Female; *Food; *Food Preferences; Humans; Male; Overweight; Sweetening Agents; Tryptophan


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Serotonergic involvement has been implicated in preferential consumption of treat foods. We tested the effect of acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) on food consumption by overweight and lean adults with and without a history of recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD). ATD and taste-matched placebo challenges were administered double-blind in counter-balanced order. Participants were classified as lean (n=36) or overweight (n=19) on the basis of body mass index (BMI). Total calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and sweet food consumption were assessed via a test meal 8-h following ATD. Four food items of comparable palatability were offered as a part of the test: two sweet (one carbohydrate-rich, and one protein-rich) and two non-sweet (one carbohydrate-rich, and one protein-rich). As compared to the placebo challenge, ATD significantly increased sweet calorie intake among overweight participants and increased their propensity to consume sweet food first before any other type of food. Lean participants' sweet calorie intake and food preference were unaffected by ATD. Findings suggest serotonergic involvement in the sweet food consumption by overweight individuals.

DOI of Published Version



Eat Behav. 2009 Jan;10(1):36-41. Epub 2008 Oct 30. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Eating behaviors

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID