Being impulsive and obese increases susceptibility to speeded detection of high-calorie foods

P. Bongers, E. van de Giessen, A. Roefs, C. Nederkoorn, J. Booij, W. van den Brink, A. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Overeating and obesity are associated with impulsivity. In studies among patients with a substance use disorder, impulsivity was found to be associated with substance-related attentional bias. This study examined whether obesity, impulsivity and food craving are associated with an attentional bias for high-calorie food. Methods: Obese (n = 185, mean BMI = 38.18 +/- 6.17) and matched healthy-weight (n = 134, mean BMI = 22.35 +/- 1.63) men (27.9%) and women (72.1%), aged 18-45 years, took part in the study. Participants were tested on several self-report and behavioral measures of impulsivity (i.e., response inhibition and reward sensitivity) and self-reported trait craving. In addition, they performed a visual search task to measure attentional bias for high-and low-caloric foods. Results: Self-reported impulsivity influenced the relationship between weight status and detection speed of high-and low-caloric food items: High-impulsive participants with obesity were significantly faster than high-impulsive healthy-weight participants in detecting a high-caloric food item among neutral items, whereas no such difference was observed among low-impulsive participants. No significant effects were found on low-caloric food items, for trait craving or any of the behavioral measures of impulsivity. Conclusion: Self-reported impulsivity, but not trait craving or behavioral measures of impulsivity, is associated with an attentional bias for high-caloric foods, but only in people with obesity. It is in particular the speedy detection of high-caloric foods in the environment that characterizes the impulsive person with obesity, which in turn may cause risky eating patterns in a society were high-caloric food is overly present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-685
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Keywords

  • ALCOHOLIC PATIENTS
  • ATTENTIONAL BIAS
  • CRAVINGS QUESTIONNAIRES
  • EATING-DISORDER EXAMINATION
  • HEALTHY WOMEN
  • INHIBITORY CONTROL
  • PERSONALITY
  • REWARD
  • SCALE
  • TRAIT
  • attention bias
  • food craving
  • impulsivity
  • obesity
  • toxic environment

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