Effects of food on mood have long been observed, ranging from increases in happiness, contentment and alertness to feelings of depression, anxiety, failure and guilt. The reasons for these effects, however, appear increasingly complex. Traditionally, the effects of foods on mood have been attributed to a number of pharmacological and/or nutritional components of the foods consumed. Further research has also demonstrated a role for the sensory characteristics of foods. More recent research however, is suggesting that these pharmacological, nutritional and sensory properties of foods are insufficient to explain the variety of effects that food can have on moods. More recent research has suggested that these factors are mediated by various characteristics of the individual consuming the food and the context in which the foods are consumed. Individual responses to the pharmacological, nutritional and sensory properties of food are apparent from birth, and are known to develop throughout life dependent on individual experience and individual attitudes and beliefs. Different responses to foods consumed in different contexts have also been repeatedly demonstrated. Due to the importance of individual and contextual characteristics, effects of food on mood can differ greatly both between and within individuals. While the pharmacological, nutritional and sensory properties of foods can determine their effects on mood to a point, individual and contextual characteristics must also be considered. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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