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

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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.

    Research areas

  • 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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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-685
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015