Moderator factors in diet priming intervention to reduce unhealthy snacking


  • S. Ohtomo


Background: Diet priming is one of the cueing interventions that change behavior unconsciously. However, diet priming is not always effective for everyone. The study examines the moderators of cueing intervention with diet priming for reduction of unhealthy eating snack. Methods: 118 undergraduates participated in the web-based experiment. The experiment measured cognitive variables (diet intention, behavioral willingness, internal and external control), unhealthy snacking habit, and length of time from the supermarket. Then, participants were randomly assigned to conditions where they were either primed by an image of weight scale associated with dieting (priming condition) or were presented with an image of cat unrelated to dieting (control condition). One week after the priming manipulation, consumption of snacks and BMI were measured. Findings: GLM analysis indicated that diet priming determined snacking. People primed with the dieting goal ate fewer snacks (M=2.72, SD=1.51) than people without priming (M=3.74, SD=2.33). And, behavioral willingness, external control, habit, and length of time from the supermarket had effects on unhealthy snacking. Moreover, priming × internal control and priming × BMI interactions were found. Simple slope analyses indicated that diet priming had an effect on unhealthy snacking for people with a lower level of internal control (β=-1.85, p<.001) and people with a lower BMI (β=-2.10, p<.001). Discussion: Although diet priming reduced unhealthy snacking, the effect was moderated by internal control and BMI. Diet priming activates dieting goal pursuit extraneously. Thus, people who have weak self-control over eating and concern about their body condition might be susceptible to the effect.





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