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Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):728-42. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.045245. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating.

Author information

  • 1University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, United Kingdom. eric.robinson@liv.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cognitive processes such as attention and memory may influence food intake, but the degree to which they do is unclear.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective was to examine whether such cognitive processes influence the amount of food eaten either immediately or in subsequent meals.

DESIGN:

We systematically reviewed studies that examined experimentally the effect that manipulating memory, distraction, awareness, or attention has on food intake. We combined studies by using inverse variance meta-analysis, calculating the standardized mean difference (SMD) in food intake between experimental and control groups and assessing heterogeneity with the I(2) statistic.

RESULTS:

Twenty-four studies were reviewed. Evidence indicated that eating when distracted produced a moderate increase in immediate intake (SMD: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.53) but increased later intake to a greater extent (SMD: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.45, 1.07). The effect of distraction on immediate intake appeared to be independent of dietary restraint. Enhancing memory of food consumed reduced later intake (SMD: 0.40; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.68), but this effect may depend on the degree of the participants' tendencies toward disinhibited eating. Removing visual information about the amount of food eaten during a meal increased immediate intake (SMD: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.68). Enhancing awareness of food being eaten may not affect immediate intake (SMD: 0.09; 95% CI: -0.42, 0.35).

CONCLUSIONS:

Evidence indicates that attentive eating is likely to influence food intake, and incorporation of attentive-eating principles into interventions provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.

PMID:
23446890
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3607652
Free PMC Article
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