Visual attention to food cues in obesity: An eye‐tracking study.

Katy J. Doolan, Gavin Breslin, Donncha Hanna, Kate Murphy, Alison M. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
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Based on the theory of incentive sensitization, the aim of this study was to investigate differences in attentional processing of food-related visual cues between normal-weight and overweight/obese males and females.

Twenty-six normal-weight (14M, 12F) and 26 overweight/obese (14M, 12F) adults completed a visual probe task and an eye-tracking paradigm. Reaction times and eye movements to food and control images were collected during both a fasted and fed condition in a counterbalanced design.

Participants had greater visual attention towards high-energy-density food images compared to low-energy-density food images regardless of hunger condition. This was most pronounced in overweight/obese males who had significantly greater maintained attention towards high-energy-density food images when compared with their normal-weight counterparts however no between weight group differences were observed for female participants.

High-energy-density food images appear to capture visual attention more readily than low-energy-density food images. Results also suggest the possibility of an altered visual food cue-associated reward system in overweight/obese males. Attentional processing of food cues may play a role in eating behaviors thus should be taken into consideration as part of an integrated approach to curbing obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2501-2507
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Early online date08 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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