Adverse effects of consuming high fat-sugar diets on cognition: implications for understanding obesity.
- Martin R Yeomans
- The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
OBJECTIVE Based on the theory of incentive sensitization, the aim of this study was to investigate differences in attentional processing of food-related visual cues between normal-weight and overweight/obese males and females. METHODS Twenty-six normal-weight (14M, 12F) and 26 overweight/obese (14M, 12F) adults completed a visual probe task and an eye-tracking paradigm. Reaction times and eye movements to food and control images were collected during both a fasted and fed condition in a counterbalanced design. RESULTS Participants had greater visual attention towards high-energy-density food images compared to low-energy-density food images regardless of hunger condition. This was most pronounced in overweight/obese males who had significantly greater maintained attention towards high-energy-density food images when compared with their normal-weight counterparts however no between weight group differences were observed for female participants. CONCLUSIONS High-energy-density food images appear to capture visual attention more readily than low-energy-density food images. Results also suggest the possibility of an altered visual food cue-associated reward system in overweight/obese males. Attentional processing of food cues may play a role in eating behaviors thus should be taken into consideration as part of an integrated approach to curbing obesity.