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The over consumption of high-calorie, unhealthy foods, such as chips, pizza, and sugary sweets, is a leading cause of ill-health, preventable death, and disability world-wide. Locally, more than two-thirds of Scotland’s adult population are overweight according to the Scottish Health Survey 2016. While previous research has identified societal factors and personality characteristics related to overeating, scientifically supported and readily learnable psychological strategies to reduce cravings are lacking. This research compares the effectiveness and usability of three easily learned strategies—a “self-regulation toolbox”—to reduce unwanted cravings for unhealthy foods. The researchers will train participants to use three different strategies to reduce desires for tempting foods. A wide range of self-report and brain measures will then be used to test to effectiveness of these strategies for reducing food-related cravings, and will also test which strategies people generally prefer and find easier to use. Here, a strategy might not be useful only because it is effective in reducing cravings, but also because people find the strategy straightforward and easy to use. These experiments will provide an initial and rigorous test of the characteristics of self-regulation strategies that will build into future work on the real-world applicability of this “self-regulation toolbox”.
Awarded: Research Incentive Grant
University: University of Dundee