Biased attentional processing of food cues and modification in obese individuals
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This paper reports two experiments designed to investigate and modify biased attentional processing of food cues in obesity. Experiment 1: Experiment 1 used a dot probe task to show a food-related attentional bias in 58 obese women, relative to a comparison sample of normal weight controls. Experiment 2: Experiment 2 examined whether this bias can be modified. Using a modified dot probe task, 96 obese women were trained to attend to, or to avoid, food pictures. Attentional bias for food increased in the attend group, and decreased in the avoid group. The attentional retraining effects generalized to an independent measure of biased information processing, such that participants in the avoid group produced relatively fewer food than animal words on a subsequent word stem completion task than those in the attend group. Conclusion: The results extend the application of attentional bias modification from anxiety and addiction to obesity. They also offer potential scope for tackling pathological (over)eating.