Manipulations of attention during eating and their effects on later snack intake

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Manipulation of attention during eating has been reported to affect later consumption via changes in meal memory. The aim of the present studies was to examine the robustness of these effects and investigate moderating factors. Across three studies, attention to eating was manipulated via distraction (via a computer game or TV watching) or focusing of attention to eating, and effects on subsequent snack consumption and meal memory were assessed. The participants were predominantly lean, young women students and the designs were between-subjects. Distraction increased later snack intake and this effect was larger when participants were more motivated to engage with the distracter and were offset when the distractor included food-related cues. Attention to eating reduced later snacking and this effect was larger when participants imagined eating from their own perspective than when they imagined eating from a third person perspective. Meal memory was impaired after distraction but focusing on eating did not affect later meal memory, possibly explained by ceiling effects for the memory measure. The pattern of results suggests that attention manipulations during eating have robust effects on later eating and the effect sizes are medium to large. The data are consistent with previous reports and add to the literature by suggesting that type of attention manipulation is important in determining effects on later eating. The results further suggest that attentive eating may be a useful target in interventions to help with appetite control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287–294
Number of pages8
Early online date29 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015

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Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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