The Attraction of Sugar: An Association between Body Mass Index and Impaired Avoidance of Sweet Snacks

Joyce Maas*, Marcella L. Woud, Ger P. J. Keijsers, Mike Rinck, Eni S. Becker, Reinout W. Wiers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study investigated implicit approach-avoidance action tendencies towards snack foods (pictorial Approach-Avoidance Task), implicit approach-avoidance associations (verbal approach-avoidance Single-Target IAT) and affective associations (verbal positive-negative Single-Target IAT) with snack foods in a group of unselected student participants (N = 83). Participants with higher BMI scores had more difficulty to avoid sweet, but not salty snack foods on the Approach-Avoidance Task. Furthermore, as shown by both Single-Target IATs, there were no significant associations between BMI on the one hand and approach-avoidance associations and positive-negative affective associations on the other hand. BMI did show a positive correlation with errors made on all tasks. The results found on the Approach-Avoidance Task suggest that not increased approach, but impaired avoidance of sweet snacks, might be related to increased BMI. However, more research is needed to further disentangle these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Body Mass Index
  • implicit processes
  • action tendencies
  • approach/avoidance
  • affective associations

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