Exposure to television food advertising primes food-related cognitions and triggers motivation to eat
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Objective: This study investigated the effect of exposure to television food advertising on accessibility of food-related cognitions and motivation to eat. Design and Main Outcome Measures: We initially developed a word stem completion task to measure accessibility of food-related cognitions. In two subsequent experiments, 160 female undergraduate students (Experiment 1) and 124 overweight or obese community-dwelling women (Experiment 2) viewed a series of television commercials advertising either food or non-food products. They then completed the word stem task and also rated their desire to eat. Results: Exposure to televised food advertisements led to the completion of word stems with more food- and eating-related words in both experiments. It also increased self-reported desire to eat, but only for overweight and obese individuals (Experiment 2). In both samples, there was a positive association between accessibility of food-related cognitions and reported desire to eat following priming with television food advertisements. Conclusion: We conclude that an increased activation of food-related cognitions may provide a mechanism for the link between food advertising and consumption. This has implications for tackling pathological (over)eating. Keywords: television food advertising; priming; food cognitions; motivation to eat; word stem completion task; obesity
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