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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):771-6. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28648. Epub 2010 Jan 20.

Interactive effects of reward sensitivity and residential fast-food restaurant exposure on fast-food consumption.

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  • 1School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.



Local fast-food environments have been increasingly linked to obesity and related outcomes. Individuals who are more sensitive to reward-related cues might be more responsive to such environments.


This study aimed to assess the moderating role of sensitivity to reward on the relation between residential fast-food restaurant exposure and fast-food consumption.


Four hundred fifteen individuals (49.6% men; mean age: 34.7 y) were sampled from 7 Montreal census tracts stratified by socioeconomic status and French/English language. The frequency of fast-food restaurant visits in the previous week was self-reported. Sensitivity to reward was self-reported by using the Behavioral Activation System (BAS) scale. Fast-food restaurant exposure within 500 m of the participants' residence was determined by using a Geographic Information System. Main and interactive effects of the BAS and fast-food restaurant exposure on fast-food consumption were tested with logistic regression models that accounted for clustering of observations and participants' age, sex, education, and household income.


Regression results showed a significant interaction between BAS and fast-food restaurant exposure (P < 0.001). Analysis of BAS tertiles indicated that the association between neighborhood fast-food restaurant exposure and consumption was positive for the highest tertile (odds ratio: 1.49; 95% CI: 1.20, 1.84; P < 0.001) but null for the intermediate (odds ratio: 1.03; 95% CI: 0.80, 1.34; P = 0.81) and lowest (odds ratio: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.51, 1.37; P = 0.49) tertiles.


Reward-sensitive individuals may be more responsive to unhealthful cues in their immediate environment.

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