The study aimed to modify approach bias for healthy and unhealthy food and to determine its effect on subsequent food consumption. In addition, we investigated the potential moderating role of impulsivity in the effect of approach bias re-training on food consumption. Participants were 200 undergraduate women (17–26 years) who were randomly allocated to one of five conditions of an approach-avoidance task varying in the training of an approach bias for healthy food, unhealthy food, and non-food cues in a single session of 10 min. Outcome variables were approach bias for healthy and unhealthy food and the proportion of healthy relative to unhealthy snack food consumed. As predicted, approach bias for healthy food significantly increased in the ‘avoid unhealthy food/approach healthy food’ condition. Importantly, the effect of training on snack consumption was moderated by trait impulsivity. Participants high in impulsivity consumed a greater proportion of healthy snack food following the ‘avoid unhealthy food/approach healthy food’ training. This finding supports the suggestion that automatic processing of appetitive cues has a greater influence on consumption behaviour in individuals with poor self-regulatory control.
- Approach bias modification
- Eating behaviour