The influence of trait and induced state impulsivity on food intake in normal-weight healthy women

Appetite. 2007 Jul;49(1):66-73. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2006.11.008. Epub 2006 Dec 23.


Previous research has linked overeating and overweight/obesity to impulsivity. To find out whether impulsivity causes overeating and hence overweight and obesity, we attempted to prime the concept of impulsivity in healthy participants. In a within-subjects design one sample participated in two conditions. In both conditions participants did a priming task that either hinted subtly at the concept of impulsivity or that was neutral in content. Each time the priming task was followed by a bogus taste test. Trait impulsivity was measured by means of a behavioural task and self-report. Firstly, we hypothesized that participants would eat more during the taste test after they had been primed with the concept "impulsivity" compared to after the control session. Secondly, we expected that a more impulsive personality would predict a heightened food intake. Thirdly, we expected that impulsivity would predict food intake better than restraint. The results showed that both the self-report measure of impulsivity and the behavioural task predicted food intake. Restraint did not significantly predict food intake. Primed impulsivity did not increase food intake, possibly because the priming effect did not last long enough.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Thinness / psychology*