The Relationship between Social Anhedonia and Perceived Pleasure from Food—An Exploratory Investigation on a Consumer Segment with Depression and Anxiety

Nikoline Bach Hyldelund*, Derek Victor Byrne, Raymond C.K. Chan, Barbara Vad Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Anhedonia, the diminished ability to experience pleasure, is a key symptom of a range of mental and neurobiological disorders and is associated with altered eating behavior. This research study investigated the concept of anhedonia in relation to mental disorders and the perception of pleasure from food to better understand the link between anhedonia and eating behavior. A consumer survey (n = 1051), including the Food Pleasure Scale, the Chapman Revised Social Anhedonia Scale, the Patient Health Questionnaire, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, was conducted to explore the perception of pleasure from food among people with anhedonic traits. Comparative analyses were performed between people with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety and people with no symptoms of these conditions. A segmentation analysis was furthermore performed based on three levels of anhedonia: Low, Intermediate and High anhedonia. Thus, insights into how food choice and eating habits may be affected by different levels of anhedonia are provided for the first time. Our findings showed that the ‘Low anhedonia’ segment found pleasure in all aspects of food pleasure, except for the aspect ‘eating alone’. ‘Eating alone’ was, however, appreciated by the ‘Intermediate anhedonia’ and ‘High anhedonia’ segments. Both the ‘Intermediate anhedonia’ and ‘High anhedonia’ segments proved that their perceptions of food pleasure in general were affected by anhedonia, wherein the more complex aspects in particular, such as ‘product information’ and ‘physical sensation’, proved to be unrelated to food pleasure. For the ‘High anhedonia’ segment, the sensory modalities of food were also negatively associated with food pleasure, indicating that at this level of anhedonia the food itself is causing aversive sensations and expectations. Thus, valuable insights into the food pleasure profiles of people with different levels of anhedonia have been found for future research in the fields of mental illness, (food) anhedonia, and consumer behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3659
JournalFoods
Volume11
Issue22
Number of pages23
ISSN2304-8158
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • anhedonia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • eating behavior
  • food pleasure
  • food reward

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