Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Psychology (Masters)

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, iii, 27 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Julia M Hormes

Committee Members

Drew Anderson, Leslie Halpern


food cravings, gestational weight gain, pregnancy, smoking cessation, Food preferences, Pregnancy, Obesity, Smoking cessation, Pregnant women, Tobacco

Subject Categories

Nutrition | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Psychology


Smoking cessation is associated with greater frequency of food cravings, even when controlling for body mass index. Recent studies have indicated similarities between obese women and women who smoke tobacco in mood states and food craving frequency. This is consistent with the common substrate hypothesis, which postulates that shared neural pathways mediate craving across multiple domains, and could explain why it is common for women attempting to quit smoking to gain weight. Smoking cessation prior to pregnancy is strongly encouraged due to the adverse effects of tobacco use on the developing fetus. Studies have shown that women who quit smoking prior to pregnancy are susceptible to greater gestational weight gain (GWG) compared to those who did not quit or never smoked at all. Furthermore, recent studies link food cravings in pregnancy to an elevated risk of excess GWG. The current study sought to examine food cravings in pregnancy among women who endorsed regular use of tobacco products prior to becoming pregnant, compared to non-smoking pregnant controls. Pregnant women (n= 84) were recruited from an Obstetrics and Gynecology department at a local academic medical center and completed measures of pre-pregnancy smoking and general and specific food cravings. Specific food cravings were assessed using the Food Craving Inventory (FCI), and general aspects of food cravings were assessed using the Food Craving Questionnaire- Trait (FCQ-T). Pre-pregnancy tobacco use was associated with significantly greater food craving frequency in pregnancy [F(4, 48)= 2.54, p=.05], specifically for high-fat (p<.05) and fast-foods (p<.05), compared to women who did not smoke. Regression analysis showed that emotional and physiological aspects of cravings accounted for a significant amount of the variance in excess GWG [F(9,39)= 2.35, p< .03]. We hypothesized that there was a moderating effect of pre-pregnancy smoking status on the effect of food cravings on excess GWG, such that the adverse impact of food cravings on GWG is more pronounced in those reporting pre-pregnancy tobacco use. However, we were unable to test this due to lack of significant associations between the key variables of interest. Further analysis is needed to identify potentially shared mechanisms of action that underlie both tobacco and specific food cravings, especially in vulnerable pregnant populations. As previous research has shown that food craving accounts for a significant portion of excess gestational weight gain, pre-pregnancy tobacco use could be an added risk factor. Findings serve to highlight the importance of incorporating strategies for managing cravings into behavioral interventions promoting healthy gestational weight gain for women endorsing pre-pregnancy tobacco use.