This study investigated whether relatively automatic evaluations of food differ between situations and between obese people and lean controls. These evaluations were assessed in the affective priming paradigm (APP)-a response latency based measure for associations. In Experiment 1, we either focused participants (33 obese and 26 lean controls) on the palatability (restaurant condition) or on the healthiness (health condition) of food, prior to the APP. Independent of weight-status, relatively automatic evaluations of food were based on palatability in the restaurant condition, and on health in the health condition. So, the current focus of attention can shape the way foods are evaluated relatively automatically. In Experiment 2, craving was induced in participants (27 obese and 29 lean controls). Unexpectedly, the craving induction did not achieve its goal of focusing on the palatability of food in general, but just for low-fat foods, possibly because of the health-emphasizing environment-a hospital. Interestingly, obese people showed a stronger palatability priming effect with increasing levels of initial craving. For normal weight controls the effect was in the same direction, but missed significance. In Our environment, palatability of food may be too salient, and health may not be salient enough, influencing automatic food-evaluations.
Roefs, A. J., Quaedackers, L. X., Werrij, M. Q., Wolters, G., Havermans, R. C., Nederkoorn, C., van Breukelen, G. J. P., & Jansen, A. T. M. (2006). The environment influences whether high-fat foods are associated with palatable or with unhealthy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(5), 715-736. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.05.007