The Influence of Response Inhibition Training on Food Consumption and Implicit Attitudes toward Food among Female Restrained Eaters

Nutrients. 2020 Nov 24;12(12):3609. doi: 10.3390/nu12123609.


Restrained eaters display difficulties engaging in self-control in the presence of food. Undergoing cognitive training to form associations between palatable food and response inhibition was found to improve self-control and influence eating behaviors. The present study assessed the impact of two such response inhibition trainings on food consumption, food-related anxiety, and implicit attitudes toward food among female restrained eaters (Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire-restrained eating subscale ≥ 2.5). In Experiment 1, 64 restrained eaters completed either one of two training procedures in which they were asked to classify food vs. non-food images: a food-response training, in which stop cues were always associated with non-food images, or a balanced food-response/inhibition training, in which participants inhibited motor actions to food and non-food stimuli equally. The results revealed reduced snack consumption following the food-response/inhibition training compared to the food-response training. The food-response training was associated with increased levels of food-related anxiety. In Experiment 2, the same training procedures were administered to 47 restrained eaters, and implicit attitudes toward palatable foods were assessed. The results revealed an increase in positive implicit attitudes toward palatable foods in the food-response/inhibition group but not in the food-response training group. The results suggest that balancing response inhibition and execution across food and non-food stimuli may reduce overeating while retaining positive attitudes toward food among female restrained eaters.

Keywords: cognitive training; implicit associations; inhibitory control; response inhibition; restrained eating; stop-signal task.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cues
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Young Adult