Explicit and implicit attitudes towards food and physical activity in childhood obesity

Behav Res Ther. 2005 Sep;43(9):1111-20. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2004.07.007.


This study investigated differences in the explicit and implicit attitudes towards food and physical activities between children with obesity (n=38) and a matched control group (n=38). The implicit attitude was assessed using the Extrinsic Affective Simon Task (EAST; J. Exp. Psychol. (50) (2003) 77), a modified version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT; J. Personality Social Psychol. (74) (1999) 1464). It was expected that both groups would report a positive explicit attitude towards healthy food and intense physical activities, and a negative explicit attitude towards unhealthy food and sedentary activities. Of particular interest was the hypothesis that children with obesity would have a more positive implicit attitude towards unhealthy food and sedentary activities than the control group. Results revealed no differences between groups in the explicit attitude towards food and physical activity. Children and adolescents with obesity had a more pronounced positive implicit attitude towards food in general. The relevance of these findings in terms of prevention, treatment and further research is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reaction Time
  • Self-Assessment