Eating 'attentively' reduces later energy consumption in overweight and obese females

Br J Nutr. 2014 Aug 28;112(4):657-61. doi: 10.1017/S000711451400141X. Epub 2014 Jun 16.


Attentional and memory processes underpin appetite control, but whether encouraging overweight individuals to eat more 'attentively' can promote reductions in energy consumption is unclear. In the present study with a between-subjects design, a total of forty-eight overweight and obese females consumed a fixed lunchtime meal. Their ad libitum energy intake of high-energy snack food was observed during a second laboratory session that occurred later that day. In the focused-attention condition, participants ate their lunch while listening to audio instructions that encouraged them to pay attention to the food being eaten. In a control condition, participants ate while listening to an audio book with a neutral (non-food-related) content. To test whether focused attention influenced food intake via enhancing the memory of the earlier consumed meal, we measured the participants' memory of their lunchtime meal. Ad libitum snack intake was approximately 30 % lower for participants in the focused-attention condition than for those in the control condition, and this difference was statistically significant. There was limited evidence that attention decreased later food intake by enhancing memory representation of the earlier consumed meal. Eating attentively can lead to a substantial decrease in later energy intake in overweight and obese individuals. Behavioural strategies that encourage a more 'attentive' way of eating could promote sustained reductions in energy intake and weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Attention
  • Audiovisual Aids
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lunch*
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / diet therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Self Psychology*
  • Snacks
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult