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


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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    • "The concept of emotional eating is derived from the psychosomatic theory (Adriaanse, de Ridder, & de Wit, 2009; Bruch, 1964). According to the psychosomatic theory, emotional eaters are unable to differentiate hunger from the physiological state accompanying negative emotions, like stress (Adriaanse et al., 2009). Researchers such as Sims et al. (2008) have conducted studies testing the psychosomatic theory of emotional eating and found that greater perceived stress was associated with unhealthy eating behaviors such as emotional eating and haphazard meal planning. "
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of literature supports the association between adverse stress experiences and health inequities, including obesity, among African American/Black women. Adverse stress experiences can contribute to poor appetite regulation, increased food intake, emotional eating, binge eating, and sedentary behavior, all of which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Most research studies concerning the effect of psychological stress on eating behaviors have not examined the unique stress experience, body composition, and eating behaviors of African American/Black women. Even fewer studies have examined these constructs among Black female college students, who have an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity compared to their counterparts. Therefore, the aim of the current study is to examine the associations among emotional eating, perceived stress, contextualized stress, and BMI in African American female college students. All participants identified as African American or Black (N=99). The mean age of the sample was 19.4years (SD=1.80). A statistically significant eating behavior patterns×perceived stress interaction was evident for body mass index (BMI) (β=0.036, S.E.=.0118, p<.01). In addition, a statistically significant eating behavior patterns×contextualized stress interaction was observed for BMI (β=0.007, S.E.=.0027, p=.015). Findings from this study demonstrate that the stress experience interacts with emotional eating to influence BMI. Based on these findings, culturally relevant interventions that target the unique stress experience and eating behavior patterns of young African American women are warranted.
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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.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Appetite
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Appetite
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