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Appetite. 1990 Feb;14(1):15-27.

Effects of food snacks on cognitive performance in male college students.

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Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155.


The effects of food snacks consumed in the late afternoon on cognitive performance in college-aged men were investigated in two experiments. The effects of the snacks were tested in the same subjects after they either consumed or skipped lunch. In the first experiment, the calorie-rich snack was a confectionery product, while in the second experiment, the snack was fruit-flavored yogurt. In both experiments, performance on cognitive tasks following consumption of the calorie-rich snack was compared to performance following consumption of a very low calorie snack (lemon-lime flavored diet soda without caffeine). Four cognitive tasks were employed: digit span recall (forward and backward), arithmetic reasoning, reading, and attention. In both experiments, subjects recalled significantly more digits in the backward digit span test and responded significantly faster in the attention task when they had consumed the calorific snack than when they had consumed the diet soft drink. Additionally, in Experiment 2, subjects solved significantly more arithmetic problems and solved these problems in significantly less time after eating a fruit-flavored yogurt than after consuming the diet soft drink. Results of these experiments suggest that a late afternoon energy-containing snack can have positive effects on cognitive performance on tasks that require sustained attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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