• saccharin sensitivity;
  • excessive exercise;
  • female dieters;
  • arousability;
  • activity anorexia



The interaction between taste sensitivity and emotionality in rats provides a provocative view of hyperactivity. Rats that have been bred selectively for their reactivity to saccharin exhibit characteristic emotionality. When placed on restrictive diets, these rats exhibit excessive activity levels, relative to rats that are not sensitive to saccharin. Because humans who are highly arousable (i.e., reactive to environmental stimuli) also exhibit an increase in sensitivity to saccharin's bitterness, the current study evaluated whether women who are highly arousable, currently dieting, and sensitive to saccharin's bitterness engage in excessive exercise.


Participants completed a questionnaire packet, which assessed emotionality, eating patterns, and exercise patterns. On another occasion, they completed a body contour drawings handout, and their weight and height were measured. They also rated saccharin's bitterness and sweetness following a stressful event.

Results and Discussion

As hypothesized, sensitivity to saccharin's bitterness predicted overactivity in highly arousable female dieters, which reveals the multidimensionality of activity anorexia. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 34: 71–82, 2003.