Journal of Food and Nutritional DisordersISSN: 2324-9323

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Attentional Bias for Food Images after Exposure to Food Commercials on TV

Attentional Bias for Food Images after Exposure to Food Commercials on TV

Objective: We investigated the effects of exposure to TV commercials for food on attentional bias (AB) toward food images. Design: Participants were 58 lean (and fed) young adults (18- 25 years old; 29 female; 18.50-24.99 BMI), who were randomly assigned to one of three 20-minute TV programming conditions: a) 12-minute neutral program with two four-minute food-commercial blocks; b) 12-minute neutral program with two four-minute nonfood commercial blocks; or c) 20-minute neutral program without commercials. Participants then performed a Visual Probe Task in which pairs of food and non-food images concealed a probe (up or down arrow) for 100 ms, 500 ms or 2,000 ms. Main Outcome Measures: The task was to indicate the direction of the arrow. The AB was observed by the difference in reaction times when the arrow replaced the images. Questionnaires assessed subjective hunger (Grand Hunger Scale) and positive and negative affect (PANAS). Results: AB was negative and different than zero at time 2,000 ms. The interaction between time and condition indicated that AB may be independent of type of commercial. Watching TV increased subjective hunger and reduced positive and negative affect. Conclusion: We concluded that commercials can alter attention to food, and that watching TV per se can influence affect and subjective hunger.

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