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J Obes Weight Loss Ther. 2013 Aug 28;3. pii: 17956.

Greater Food-Related Stroop Interference Following Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention.

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Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, The Miriam Hospital and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, USA.



Individuals who have successfully lost and maintained weight have slower reaction times on food-related Stroop tasks, indicating greater cognitive interference to food stimuli compared to obese and normal weight individuals. It remains unclear whether this interference is a preexisting characteristic of weight loss maintainers or if food-interference changes in obese individuals as they lose weight.


To examine potential changes in food-related interference, a food-Stroop paradigm was used to measure responses to food versus non-food words in 13 obese women before and after a 12-week behavioral weight loss program.


Participants achieved a mean weight loss of 5.12 kg through the behavioral weight loss program. Their reaction time to food words became significantly slower (p<0.001) and they made significantly more errors (p<0.01) following treatment.


These findings suggest that through behavioral weight loss treatment obese individuals experience increased interference toward food words, which may reflect increased salience of food-related cues. Future research is needed to determine whether increases in interference are related to better weight loss and maintenance.


Food-stroop paradigm; SWLM; Weight loss intervention

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