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Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Afework Tsegaye
,
Joachim Bjørne
,
Anita Winther
,
Gyöngyi Kökönyei
,
Renáta Cserjési
, and
H.N. Alexander Logemann

Abstract

Background and aims

Previous studies suggest that attentional bias and disengagement may vary as a function of Body Mass Index (BMI), most notably in a palatable food related context. Though this could indeed represent a food context specific effect, it could also represent a general reward related context effect. In addition, though mindfulness and stress have both been reported to affect attention, it is not yet clear whether these moderate the relationship between BMI and attention as a function of reward context. In the current study we addressed these questions. It was hypothesized that BMI would be positively associated with bias in a food context and money context relative to a neutral context. The inverse was expected for disengagement. It was expected that mindfulness would decrease these relationships and for stress the inverse was expected.

Methods

In the current online study, eighty-seven participants (24 males and 63 females; age: M = 30.1, SD = 8.3; BMI: M = 24.2, SD = 4.67), filled out questionnaires and completed a visuospatial cueing task measuring attention and disengagement of attention in a neutral, food-related, and money-related condition.

Results

There was no association between BMI and attentional bias. Higher BMI was associated with faster responses to money pictures presented opposite to a cued location as compared to money pictures that did not follow a predictive cue. Our results do not support a clear moderating role of mindfulness and stress.

Discussion and conclusion

Our results imply faster processing and associated quicker responding to unanticipated reward-related stimuli in individuals with overweight or obesity.

Open access