SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Reward sensitivity, grazing, food addiction, and snacking while viewing television with embedded “fast food” advertisements
Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
   External food cues, such as fast food advertisements, have been found to influence eating behaviour. Individual differences in reward sensitivity have been related to noticing and responding to such cues. Previous research found exposure to fast food advertisements increased urge to eat, and subsequent snack food consumed, in participants high in reward sensitivity. Following from this research, the aim of this study was to investigate the association between reward sensitivity and food consumption while viewing a television show with, and without, fast food advertisements. Associations with other forms of overeating: grazing (repetitive snacking over an extended period) and food addiction symptoms (excessive over-consumption) were also assessed. 100 undergraduate students (66% female) were randomly exposed to fast-food advertisements or non-food advertisements embedded within a 30-minute movie. Participants were allowed to snack on chocolates while they viewed the movie in a controlled laboratory. Reward sensitivity, food addiction, and grazing were measured with established self-report questionnaires. Cue condition moderated the association between reward sensitivity and food consumed (B = 1.62; p = .03) - heightened reward sensitivity was associated with amount of food consumed during the movie, but only for participants exposed to food cues (food cue r = .30, p = .03, no food cue r = -.18, p = .25). Reward sensitivity was also significantly associated with grazing (r = .33, p =.001) and food addiction symptom count (r = .41, p < .001). These findings provide further support that those with heightened reward sensitivity are particularly susceptible to the influence of food cues, which may influence overeating and related behaviours.