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PurposeThere is increasing evidence that exercise training may facilitate weight management via improvements in homeostatic appetite control, but little is known about how exercise training affects food reward and susceptibility to overeating.MethodsThis study examined changes in food reward and eating behavior traits after a supervised 12-week exercise intervention (10.5 MJ/week) in inactive individuals with overweight/obesity (Exercisers; n=46, 16 males/30 females; BMI=30.6 (SD 3.8) kg/m2 and age=43.2 (SD 7.5) years compared to non-exercising Controls (n=15; 6 males/9 females; BMI=31.4 (SD 3.7) kg/m2 and age=41.4 (SD 10.7) years). Liking and wanting scores for high-fat relative to low-fat foods was assessed with the Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire before and after consumption of an isoenergetic high-fat (HFAT) or high-carbohydrate (HCHO) lunch. Eating behavior traits were assessed using the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire and Binge Eating Scale.ResultsA week by group interaction indicated that wanting scores decreased from baseline to post-intervention in Exercisers only (M[INCREMENT]Pre-Post= -4.1, p=0.03, ηp2=0.09, 95%CI= -7.8 to -0.4), but there was no exercise effect on liking. There was also a week by group interaction for binge eating, which decreased in Exercisers only (M[INCREMENT]Pre-Post= -1.5, p=0.01, ηp2=0.11, 95%CI= -2.7 to -0.4). A small reduction in disinhibition was also apparent in Exercisers (M[INCREMENT]Pre-Post= -0.7, p=0.02, ηp2=0.10, 95%CI= -1.3 to -0.1).ConclusionThis study showed that 12 weeks of exercise training reduced wanting scores for high-fat foods and trait markers of overeating in individuals with overweight/obesity compared to non-exercising Controls. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind these exercise-induced changes in food reward.

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