Addiction to food: how go/no-go tasks affect appetite

Marlies Y. Gish


Obesity has an extremely high mortality rate. Most obese people try out several diets, while only a few of them are able to hold on to it and refrain from overeating. A number of studies have been conducted to discover the underlying mechanisms that cause some people not being able to fully commit to a diet. Earlier studies show that people with obesity have much stronger automatic impulses and less inhibitory control over their behavior regarding food intake. This lack in control can be trained by repeating computer tasks focusing on executive functioning. In this study it is hypothesized that a go/no-go training will strengthen impulse control. Sixty-six adolescents were included in this study. The present study was a Randomized Controlled Trial in which thirty-three participants took part in the intervention task and thirty-three were assigned to the control task. The independent variable to train inhibitory control was a go/no-go computer task. The short term dependent variable got measured by the Bogus Taste Test and the long term dependent variable got measured by difference in Body Mass Index between baseline and follow-up measurement after three weeks. Current study does not show any significant difference in food consumption after the intervention which means no short term effect of the training. Weight loss between baseline and follow-up measurement on the other hand, does demonstrate a significant difference, where the intervention condition shows a decrease in body weight compared to the control condition. These outcomes indicate an increased inhibitory control system on the long term which arises as a result of the go/no-go training. Being able to train inhibitory control of food related stimuli makes it an interesting topic to be further explored in combating obesity

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