The role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success

Article


Whitelock, V., Nouwen, A., van den Akker, O. and Higgs, S. 2018. The role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success. Appetite. 124, pp. 24-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.05.043
TypeArticle
TitleThe role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success
AuthorsWhitelock, V., Nouwen, A., van den Akker, O. and Higgs, S.
Abstract

Evidence suggests a role for self-reported working memory (WM) in self-reported food intake, but it is not known which WM sub-components are involved. It is also important to consider how individual differences in dietary restraint and disinhibition influence WM and the impact of this on food choice. The current study assessed the relationship between WM sub-components and food choice, using computerised measures of WM sub-components and a direct assessment of food intake. The role of dieting success (measured by restraint and disinhibition) as a distal predictor of food choice that influences food choices via WM, and the role of WM more generally in dieting success were investigated. Female undergraduate students (N = 117, mean age: 18.9 years, mean BMI: 21.6 kg/m2) completed computer tasks assessing three components of WM (updating, phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad) and a snack food taste-test. Greater visuospatial WM span was associated with a higher (lower) percentage of food intake that was low (high) energy dense. It was also found that unsuccessful dieters (high restraint, high disinhibition) had poorer visuospatial WM span and consumed a lower (higher) percentage of low (high) energy dense food. Visuospatial WM span significantly mediated the relationship between dieting success and percentage of low energy dense food intake. Further, dietary restraint was associated with poorer updating ability, irrespective of disinhibition. These findings suggest that better visuospatial WM is associated with a greater (reduced) preference for low (high) energy dense foods, and that deficits in visuospatial WM may undermine dieting attempts. Future work should assess whether the ability to deal with food cravings mediates the relationship between visuospatial WM and dieting success and investigate how WM may influence the mechanisms underlying behavioural control.

Research GroupApplied Health Psychology group
LanguageEnglish
PublisherElsevier
JournalAppetite
ISSN0195-6663
Publication dates
Online26 May 2017
Print01 May 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Dec 2017
Accepted23 May 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
License
Copyright Statement

© 2018. This author's accepted manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Additional information

Referred to by
V. Whitelock, A. Nouwen, O. van den Akker, S. Higgs
Corrigendum to ‘The role of working memory sub-components in food choice and dieting success’ Appetite volume 124 (2018) 24-32
Appetite, Volume 132, 1 January 2019, Pages 283
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.09.022

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.05.043
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