Children’s and Adult’s Visual Attention to Healthy and Unhealthy Food: Comparing Self-Regulatory Capacity
AbstractBackground: Visual attention to unhealthy food triggers the urge to eat and thereby creates self-control conflicts in people trying to eat healthily. Avoiding visual attention to unhealthy food can thus be considered a self-regulatory strategy. Self-regulatory capacity has been shown to develop throughout childhood and adolescence suggesting that adults self regulate better than children. Methods: Using a novel eye-tracking paradigm children's and adults' initial fixation (bottom-up) and retained dwell time (top-down), were measured upon exposure to healthy and unhealthy food pictures. Findings: Results revealed increased initial attention to unhealthy food in children and adults. For retained attention however, adults self-regulated their visual attention away from the unhealthy towards the healthy food, while children did not self-regulate visual attention away from unhealthy food despite their self-reported attempts to eat healthily. Discussion: These findings emphasize the necessity of improving children's self-regulatory skills to support healthy eating in an obesogenic environment and promote a novel technique of examining self-regulatory capacity.
Copyright (c) 2014 A. F. Junghans , I.I. Hooge , J. Maas , C. Evers , D.T. D. De Ridder
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