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Body Composition Highlights Original Article

Preliminary validation and principal components analysis of the Control of Eating Questionnaire (CoEQ) for the experience of food craving



The Control of Eating Questionnaire (CoEQ) comprises 21-items that are designed to assess the severity and type of food cravings an individual experiences over the previous 7 days. The CoEQ has been used in clinical trials as a multi-dimensional measure of appetite, craving and mood regulation however its underlying component structure has yet to be determined. The current paper has two aims; (1) to examine the psychometric properties, and internal consistency of the CoEQ; and (2) to provide a preliminary examination of the underlying components by exploring their construct and predictive validity.


Data were pooled from four studies in which a total 215 adults (80% women; Age=29.7±10.3; BMI=26.5±5.2) had completed the CoEQ alongside measures of psychometric eating behaviour traits, ad libitum food intake, and body composition. A principal components analysis (PCA) and parallel analysis was conducted to examine the underlying structure of the questionnaire. The resulting subscales were tested for internal consistency (Cronbach’s α=0.66–0.88).


PCA revealed four components that explained 54.5% of the variance. The components were identified as: Craving Control, Positive Mood, Craving for Sweet, and Craving for Savoury. Associations between the underlying CoEQ subscales and measures of body composition and eating behaviour traits confirmed construct validity of the subscales. The associations between the subscales and snack food selection and intake of palatable snack foods supported the CoEQ’s predictive validity.


The CoEQ has good psychometric properties with a clear component structure and acceptable internal consistency. This preliminary validation supports the CoEQ as a measure of the experience of food cravings.

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This research was supported by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant: BB/G530141/1. The authors’ responsibilities were as follows—MD, GF and JB designed the studies; MD collected the data; MD analysed the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript; all authors interpreted the data and revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to M Dalton.

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Dalton, M., Finlayson, G., Hill, A. et al. Preliminary validation and principal components analysis of the Control of Eating Questionnaire (CoEQ) for the experience of food craving. Eur J Clin Nutr 69, 1313–1317 (2015).

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