Preoccupation, food, and failure: An investigation of cognitive performance deficits in dieters
Article first published online: 25 FEB 2003
Copyright © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
International Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 185–192, March 2003
How to Cite
Jones, N. and Rogers, P. J. (2003), Preoccupation, food, and failure: An investigation of cognitive performance deficits in dieters. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 33: 185–192. doi: 10.1002/eat.10124
- Issue published online: 25 FEB 2003
- Article first published online: 25 FEB 2003
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 FEB 2002
- cognitive performance;
- thought content;
- food deprivation
This study tested two explanations of the cognitive performance deficits of dieters. First, these deficits are due to the metabolic consequences of food deprivation. Second, they are psychological in origin (i.e., preoccupation with dieting-related thoughts during dieting depletes the cognitive resources available for nondieting tasks).
Dieters and nondieters performed a battery of cognitive tasks before and after consumption of a high-energy chocolate bar. Eating the chocolate bar was expected to reverse the effects of food deprivation but, as a “diet-threatening” food, it could increase dieting-related preoccupation.
Results and Conclusions
The results supported the latter prediction. Performance on a memory task was further impaired, rather than improved, after food consumption in dieters. In addition, dieters experienced a significant increase in the number of food and dieting-related thoughts. Some dieters attributed their poorer performance to distraction by these thoughts. Marked individual differences in thought content accounted for some of the variability in the effects on performance. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 33: 185–192, 2003.