Finding the Critical Cue: Implementation Intentions to Change One's Diet Work Best When Tailored to Personally Relevant Reasons for Unhealthy Eating

Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Impact Factor: 2.52). 02/2009; 35(1):60-71. DOI: 10.1177/0146167208325612
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Implementation intentions promote acting on one's good intentions. But does specifying where and when to act also suffice when goals involve complex change that requires not merely initiating a behavior but rather substituting a habit with a new response? In a pilot study and two experiments, the authors investigated the efficacy of implementation intentions to replace unhealthy snacks with healthy snacks by linking different types of cues for unhealthy snacking (if-part) to healthy snacking (then-part). The pilot study identified cues for unhealthy snacking, differentiating between situational (where/when) and motivational (why) cues. Studies 1 and 2 tested the efficacy of implementation intentions that specified either situational or motivational cues in altering snacking habits. Results showed that implementation intentions specifying motivational cues decreased unhealthy snack consumption whereas the classic specification of where and when did not. Extending previous research, for complex behavior change "why" seems more important than "where and when."

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Available from: John de Wit, Dec 13, 2013
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    • "associations " are 'if–then' behavioral plans that specify a particular behavior to be performed in a particular context or in response to a particular thought (e.g., 'if I think about chocolate cake, then I will eat an apple instead', (Adriaanse et al., 2009, as cited in Mann et al., 2013, p.492). Intention implementation is an effective strategy for substituting unhealthy snacks with healthy ones (Adriaanse et al., 2009; Armitage, 2004; Giesen et al., 2010). A review of the research on eating behavior suggested intention implementation as more effective for promoting healthy food consumption than attempts to reduce unhealthy eating (Adriaanse et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: In an obesogenic environment, people have to adopt effective weight management strategies to successfully gain or maintain normal body weight. Little is known about the strategies used by the general population in daily life. Due to the lack of a comprehensive measurement instrument to assess conceptually different strategies with various scales, we developed the weight management strategies inventory (WMSI). In study 1, we collected 19 weight management strategies from research on self-regulation of food intake and successful weight loss and maintenance, as well as from expert interviews. We classified them under the five main categories of health self-regulation strategies-goal setting and monitoring, prospection and planning, automating behavior, construal, and inhibition. We formulated 93 items. In study 2, we developed the WMSI in a random sample from the general population (N = 658), using reliability and exploratory factor analysis. This resulted in 19 factors with 63 items, representing the 19 strategies. In study 3, we tested the 19-factor structure in a quota (age, gender) sample from the general population (N = 616), using confirmatory factor analysis. A good model fit (CFI = .918; RMSEA = .043) was revealed. Reliabilities and construct validity were high. Positive correlations of most strategies with dieting success and negative correlations of some strategies with body mass index were found among dieters (N = 292). Study 4 (N = 162) revealed a good test-retest reliability. The WMSI assesses theoretically derived, evidence-based, and conceptually different weight management strategies with different scales that have good psychometric characteristics. The scales can also be used for pre- and post measures in intervention studies. The scales provide insights into the general population's weight management strategies and facilitate tailoring and evaluating health communication. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Appetite 06/2015; 92. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.037 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "Impulse control could, for instance, be achieved by including strategies that override the first impulse to grab an unhealthy snack and instead take an alternative (e.g., implementation intention such as: 'If I see or smell tempting food, then I will eat an apple.'; Adriaanse et al., 2009; Kroese, Adriaanse, Evers, & De Ridder, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Investigating the reasons people give for unhealthy snacking behavior is important for developing effective health interventions. Little research, however, has identified reasons that apply to a large audience and most studies do not integrate multiple factors, precluding any conclusions regarding their relative importance. The present study explored reasons for unhealthy snacking among a representative community sample. Participants (N=1544) filled out the newly developed Reasons to Snack inventory assessing an elaborate range of motives at baseline and one-month follow-up. Exploratory and replication factor analyses identified six categories: opportunity induced eating, coping with negative emotions, enjoying a special occasion, rewarding oneself, social pressure, and gaining energy. The highest mean scores were obtained for enjoying a special occasion and opportunity induced eating. Regression analyses with participant characteristics as independent variables and each category of reasons as dependent variables showed differences for age. For all reasons except to enjoy a special occasion, younger people reported a higher score. Women indicated a higher score than men on coping with negative emotions, enjoying a special occasion and gaining energy. People who diet to a stronger extent reported a higher score for snacking because of social pressure, to reward oneself and to cope with negative emotions, with the latter also being related to a higher BMI. Finally, a higher education was associated with enjoying a special occasion. Future health interventions could allocate more attention to diminishing unhealthy snacking with regard to the six identified categories, specifically focusing on enjoying a special occasion and opportunity induced eating.
    Appetite 09/2014; 84. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.013 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the implementation intentions strategy on the adoption of healthier nutritional behaviors, such as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption [28] [29] [30] [31], reducing saturated-fat-food intake [32] [33] [34], and using weight-loss products [35]. To the best of our knowledge, specifically using implementation intentions to reduce salt intake has not been described. "
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    ABSTRACT: This experimental study was aimed at assessing the potential effect of a theory-driven intervention-implementation intentions-on reducing salt intake among hypertensive Brazilian women. Ninety-eight participants were randomly assigned to participate in an implementation intentions intervention aimed at promoting lower salt intake through decreased addition of salt and salty spices to meals (intervention group, n = 49; group, n = 49). Endpoints were assessed at baseline and at the 2-month follow-up. Primary endpoints were a self-reporting measure of salt intake given by salt addition to meals (discretionary salt + salty spices = total added salt) and the 24 h urinary-sodium excretion. Secondary endpoints included intention, self-efficacy, and habit related to adding salt to meals. Patients in the intervention group showed a significant reduction in salt intake as assessed by 24 h urinary-sodium excretion. A significant reduction in the measure of habit was observed for both groups. No differences were observed for intention and self-efficacy. The results of this pilot study suggest the efficacy of planning strategies to help hypertensive women reduce their salt intake.
    08/2014; 2014:196410. DOI:10.1155/2014/196410
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