gms | German Medical Science

3. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e. V. (DGESS)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e. V.

23.02. - 25.02.2012, Hannover

Biofeedback of Heart Rate Variability Reduces Food Cravings in High Food Cravers

Meeting Abstract

Search Medline for

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Adrian Meule - Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
  • Claus Vögele - Université du Luxembourg, Walferdange, Luxembourg
  • Andrea Kübler - Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e.V. (DGESS). 3. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Essstörungen. Hannover, 23.-25.02.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. Doc12dgess028

DOI: 10.3205/12dgess028, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-12dgess0285

Published: February 8, 2012

© 2012 Meule et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en). You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Outline

Text

Background: Biofeedback of heart rate variability (HRV) has been found to increase HRV while decreasing psychopathological symptoms in patients with mental disorders related to low HRV [1]. In addition, individuals with strong substance or chocolate cravings have been found to have lower HRV compared to individuals without such cravings [2]. The current study aimed at decreasing food cravings using HRV-biofeedback in subjects that experience such cravings frequently and intensely.

Material/Methods: Participants (N = 56) were selected from the local community using online screening. One group of participants with strong food cravings (craving-intervention; n = 14) performed 12 sessions of HRV-biofeedback while another group (craving-control; n = 14) and a group with low food craving (non-craving control; n = 28) received no intervention.

Results: Subjective food cravings related to a lack of control over eating did not change between online screening and the first measurement. However, they decreased from pre- to post measurement in the craving-intervention group only, and remained constant in the control groups. Moreover, only the craving-intervention group showed a decrease in eating and weight concerns. From pre- to post measurement, HRV decreased in the craving-control group and did not change in the craving-intervention or the non-craving control group.

Discussion: Although HRV-biofeedback was successful in reducing food cravings, this change was not accompanied by an increase in HRV. This study provides preliminary evidence that HRV-biofeedback could be beneficial for attenuating dysfunctional eating behavior. However, the specific mechanisms have to be further explored.


References

1.
Wheat AL, Larkin KT. Biofeedback of heart rate variability and related physiology: A critical review. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2010;35(3):229-42.
2.
Rodríguez-Ruiz S, Ruiz-Padial E, Vera N, Fernández C, Anllo-Vento L, Vila J. Effect of heart rate variability on defensive reaction and eating disorder symptomatology in chocolate cravers. J Psychophysiol. 2009;23(3):95-103.