Attentional bias modification encourages healthy eating
Kemps, Eva Bertha
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The continual exposure to unhealthy food cues in the environment encourages poor dietary habits, in particular consuming too much fat and sugar, and not enough fruit and vegetables. According to Berridge’s (1996) model of food reward, unhealthy eating is a behavioural response to biased attentional processing. The present study used an established attentional bias modification paradigm to discourage the consumption of unhealthy food and instead promote healthy eating. Participants were 146 undergraduate women who were randomly assigned to two groups: one was trained to direct their attention toward pictures of healthy food (‘attend healthy’ group) and the other toward unhealthy food (‘attend unhealthy’ group). It was found that participants trained to attend to healthy food cues demonstrated an increased attentional bias for such cues and ate relatively more of the healthy than unhealthy snacks compared to the ‘attend unhealthy’ group. Theoretically, the results support the postulated link between biased attentional processing and consumption (Berridge, 2009). At a practical level, they offer potential scope for interventions that focus on eating well.