The Impact of Health Games on Implicit Attitudes Towards Food and Food Choice Behavior

Project Lead Category Project status
Eva Alblas Substance Abuse Writing Dissertation

Because of the observed overlap between obesity and substance abuse, excessive eating has been termed addictive behavior. We want to investigate whether video games can be used to modify automatic processes involved in eating behavior. The focus of this project is on a positive implicit attitude towards energy-dense food and automatic approach behavior.

Project team

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27-09-2015

Many obesity intervention programs hope to achieve their goal by means of health education (Anderson, Luan, & Høie, 2004). Usually, recommendations concerning dietary guidelines are provided. An important assumption in these education-based programs is that increased knowledge leads to behavioral change (van 't Riet, Sijtsema, Dagevos, & De Bruijn, 2011). However, knowledge alone does not seem to be sufficient for most individuals to modify and maintain healthful behavior over an extended period (Schaefer & Magnuson, 2014; Webb & Sheeran, 2006). In fact, dieting even seems to be associated with future weight gain(Havermans, Giesen, Houben, & Jansen, 2011; Schaefer & Magnuson, 2014). Thus, it has been suggested that treatment interventions should not be exclusively focus on education (Kirschenbaum & Gierut, 2013). A reason for the modest effectiveness of education-based treatment may be that many processes involved in eating behavior are not consciously planned and deliberate, but occur on a more automatic level instead (van 't Riet et al., 2011).

Because of the observed overlap between obesity and substance abuse, excessive eating has been termed addictive behavior (Corsica & Pelchat, 2010; Volkow, Wang, Tomasi, & Baler, 2013). One well-known theory of the mechanisms of addiction is the incentive-sensitization model by Robinson and Berridge (Robinson & Berridge, 1993). This model states that rewarding properties are increasingly attributed to the object of addiction and its associations through classical conditioning, leading to increased liking and wanting. The objects become more salient and increasingly attention-grabbing and trigger automatic approach behavior. This motivational activation of approach is regulated by the dopaminergic reward system and occurs implicitly (Stice & Yokum, 2016).

The focus of the present project is on the first and last components of the incentive-sensitization model; a positive implicit attitude towards energy-dense food and automatic approach behavior. Randomized controlled studies will investigate the impact of health games based on principles of evaluative conditioning and impulse training on these automatic processes and adolescents’ eating behavior.

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Project team

Eva Alblas title=
Eva Alblas

My research focuses on targeting obesity among adolescents, as this maintains to be a growing problem (World Health Organization, 2000).

Function

PhD-Candidate

Contact

E-mail Eva

Frans Folkvord title=
Frans Folkvord

Function

Junior Researcher

Contact

E-mail Frans

Doeschka J Anschütz title=
Doeschka J Anschütz

Function

Researcher

Contact

E-mail Doeschka

Jonathan van 't Riet title=
Jonathan van 't Riet

Function

Assistant Professor

Contact

E-mail Jonathan

Moniek Buijzen title=
Moniek Buijzen

Function

Professor

Contact

E-mail Moniek

Erik van den Berge title=
Erik van den Berge

Game designer, VR-guru, mocap artist, animator, video editor and all-round problem solver. Avid gamer, movie lover and dabbling photographer.

Function

Game Designer

Contact

E-mail Erik

Sources

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  1. Anderson, J., Luan, J., & Høie, L. (2004). Structured weight-loss programs: Meta-analysis of weight loss at 24 weeks and assessment of effects of intervention intensity. Advances in Therapy, 21(2), 61-75. doi: 10.1007/BF02850334
  2. Corsica, J. A., & Pelchat, M. L. (2010). Food addiction: true or false? Curr Opin Gastroenterol, 26(2), 165-169. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328336528d
  3. Havermans, R. C., Giesen, J. C., Houben, K., & Jansen, A. (2011). Weight, gender, and snack appeal. Eat Behav, 12(2), 126-130. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.01.010
  4. Kirschenbaum, D. S., & Gierut, K. (2013). Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity: An Integrative Review of Recent Recommendations From Five Expert Groups. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(2), 13. doi: DOI: 10.1037/a0030497
  5. Robinson, T. E., & Berridge, K. C. (1993). The neural basis of drug craving: an incentive-sensitization theory of addiction. Brain Res Brain Res Rev, 18(3), 247-291.
  6. Schaefer, J. T., & Magnuson, A. B. (2014). A Review of Interventions that Promote Eating by Internal Cues. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(5), 734-760. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2013.12.024
  7. Stice, E., & Yokum, S. (2016). Neural vulnerability factors that increase risk for future weight gain. Psychol Bull, 142(5), 447-471. doi: 10.1037/bul0000044
  8. van 't Riet, J., Sijtsema, S. J., Dagevos, H., & De Bruijn, G. J. (2011). The importance of habits in eating behaviour. An overview and recommendations for future research. Appetite, 57(3), 585-596. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.07.010
  9. Volkow, N. D., Wang, G. J., Tomasi, D., & Baler, R. D. (2013). Obesity and addiction: neurobiological overlaps. Obesity Reviews, 14(1), 2-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01031.x
  10. Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychol Bull, 132(2), 249-268.

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