The primary purpose of the present study was to investigate attentional biases for food-related stimuli in individuals with overweight and normal weight using a flicker paradigm. Specifically, it was tested whether attention allocation processes differ between individuals with overweight and normal weight using transient changes of food-related and neutral pictures. Change detection latencies in objects of central interest (CI) or objects of marginal interest (MI) were measured as an index of attention allocation in a sample of fifty-three students with overweight/obesity and sixty students with normal weight during a flicker paradigm with neutral, hypercaloric and hypocaloric food pictures. Both groups of participants showed an attentional bias for food-related pictures as compared to neutral pictures. However, the bias was larger in individuals with overweight than in individuals with normal weight when changes were of marginal interest, suggesting a stronger avoidance of the food-related picture. This study showed that food-related stimuli influence attention allocation processes in both participants with overweight and normal weight. In particular, as compared to individuals with normal weight, those with overweight seem to be characterised by a stronger attentional avoidance of (or smaller attention maintenance on) food-related stimuli that could be considered as a voluntary strategy to resist food consumption.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited