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A Cross-Sectional Investigation of Impulsivity, Sensitivity to Reward, Eating Attitudes and Mental Habit as Predictors of Snacking Behaviours.

Binsale, Laura J (2012) A Cross-Sectional Investigation of Impulsivity, Sensitivity to Reward, Eating Attitudes and Mental Habit as Predictors of Snacking Behaviours. Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Impulsivity, sensitivity to reward, mental habit strength and eating attitudes have all been found to independently predict the food choices we make. With an urgency to better understand dysfunctional eating behaviours, recent research has highlighted the importance of habit strength and its role in snacking behaviours (Verplanken, 2006). This current research aims to enhance our understanding of the relationship between personality and eating attitudes and how together they may predict snacking behaviour. It also aims to provide a greater insight into mental habit strength and examine the possibility that it may be driven by opposing aspects of our personality. 112 female undergraduate students completed a cross-sectional survey containing four psychometric measures Snacking behaviour was measured using a self-reported food diary over 48 hours. Habit strength was positively associated with uncontrolled and emotional eating ( ps < .01 ). A simple mediation model found habit strength partially mediated the effect of uncontrolled and emotional eating on snacking behaviour. Sobel test indicated that this indirect effect was significant ( p < .05 ). Emotional eating, uncontrolled eating and cognitive restraint independently of each other, predicted snacking behaviour. However, when mental habit strength was accounted for, the effect of uncontrolled eating and emotional eating was reduced. Findings from this research may be used to educate healthcare professionals on areas to focus on when implementing new interventions for the treatment of obesity, bulimia nervosa and compulsive eating disorder.

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