The effect of combined avoidance and control training on implicit food evaluation and choice

Naomi Kakoschke, Eva Kemps, Marika Tiggemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background Continual exposure to food cues in the environment contributes to unhealthy eating behaviour. According to dual-process models, such behaviour is partly determined by automatic processing of unhealthy food cues (e.g., approach bias), which fails to be regulated by controlled processing (e.g., inhibitory control). The current study aimed to investigate the effect of combined avoidance and control training on implicit evaluation (liking), choice, and consumption of unhealthy snack food. Method Participants were 240 undergraduate women who were randomly allocated to one of four experimental conditions of a 2 (avoidance training: training versus control) x 2 (control training: training versus control) between-subjects design. Results The combined training group had a more negative implicit evaluation of unhealthy food than either of the two training conditions alone or the control condition. In addition, participants trained to avoid unhealthy food cues subsequently made fewer unhealthy snack food choices. No significant group differences were found for food intake. Limitations Participants were women generally of a healthy weight. Overweight or obese individuals may derive greater benefit from combined training. Conclusions Results lend support to the theoretical predictions of dual-process models, as the combined training reduced implicit liking of unhealthy food. At a practical level, the findings have implications for the effectiveness of interventions targeting unhealthy eating behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-105
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Approach bias modification
  • Control training
  • Eating behaviour
  • Food choice
  • Implicit evaluation

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