Toward isolating reward changes in diet-induced obesity: A demand analysis

Seth R. Batten, Kayla B. Hicks, Linda P. Dwoskin, Joshua S. Beckmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although hormonal and metabolic factors are well known to influence obesity, recent evidence suggests that obesity may be influenced also by changes in reward sensitivity akin to that seen in other ‘reward pathologies’, like substance use disorders. The current study sought to isolate changes in reward that may occur after the onset of diet-induced obesity by characterizing the economic demand for caloric (sucrose) and non-caloric (saccharin) reinforcers in a preclinical model of diet-induced obesity (DIO). We utilized economic demand analysis to measure baseline demand intensity (Q0) and demand elasticity (α) for sucrose and saccharin reinforcers in rats. After baseline measures were collected, rats were assigned randomly to a high-fat (HF) diet or low-fat (LF) control diet. After 8-weeks of diet exposure, HF rats were divided into obesity-resistant (OR) or obesity-prone (OP) groups based on weight after the 8-week HF diet exposure. Post-DIO demand data for each reinforcer were reassessed. At baseline, rats had higher demand intensity and lower elasticity for sucrose compared to saccharin. After 8-weeks of the high-fat diet, OP rats had significantly greater weight gain and lower demand elasticity for sucrose and saccharin and higher demand intensity for saccharin. The changes in sucrose and saccharin elasticity suggest that DIO-induced changes in food-related behavior are associated with changes in reward processes. The changes in demand intensity for saccharin suggest that demand intensity, as a measure of ‘set point’, is not directly linked to metabolic processes. The current study shows that microeconomic theory and demand analysis is able to isolate independent aspects of diet-induced reward changes related to caloric and non-caloric reinforcers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112729
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Behavioral economics
  • Demand behavior
  • Diet-induced obesity
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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