Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2005


Abstract of Paper Session from Society for Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, April 13-15, 2005; published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 29, Annual Meeting Supplement, S167. Online @


Colloquially, much is made of the relation between food and mood. For example, “comfort foods” are eaten in the service of affect regulation. Affect can influence behavioral choices in a number of ways. We investigated whether college students’ mood when making dietary choices influenced the nutritional value of the foods chosen. Sixty-five participants completed a questionnaire immediately prior to eating a meal in a college dining hall. The questionnaire included a measure of current positive affect. Following the meal, participants reported what they ate for dinner. Using nutritional data from the college dining services, we used participants’ self reported food intake to compute measures of caloric intake at the meal, total and saturated fat consumption, sodium consumption, and cholesterol consumption. To examine the relation between positive affect and food intake, we categorized participants as currently experiencing either high or low levels of positive affect based the self-report affect measure. Those experiencing higher levels of positive affect consumed significantly more calories and had higher sodium, cholesterol, and total fat intake than those with lower levels of positive affect; all Fs(1,63)>4.5, all ps<.05. The two groups did not significantly differ on saturated fat consumption, although the mean differences showed higher levels for those who were experiencing more positive affect. These findings demonstrate that current mood may have an influence on individuals’ dietary behavioral choices and that higher levels of positive affect may lead to dietary choices associated with weight control issues. These findings have implications for both understanding the affect-behavior relation and for designing effective dietary interventions.