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Kelly Hanlon, Basem Gohar, Keith Brewster; Investigating Selective Attentional Biases in Nutritional Food Labels Through Eye-Tracking in the Disordered-Eating Population. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):492. doi: 10.1167/11.11.492.
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BACKGROUND: Recent research has implicated the role of selective attentional biases in a variety of anxiety disorders. Specifically, in individuals engaging in patterns of disordered eating, such biases are believed to be a moderating factor in food choice and/or avoidance. The current study used eye-tracking methodology to examine how selective attentional biases towards specific stimuli on nutritional food labels were moderated by gender, BMI, and presence of specifc patterns of disordered eating. METHOD: A total of 60 participants were asked to complete a triad of clinical eating questionnaires (EDI-3, EDQ, and SCOFF), view a series of nutritional food labels, and decide whether such labels were indicative of healthy or unhealthy foods all while eye-movements were recorded to quantify overall viewing times, number of fixations, and total number of saccades. RESULTS: Overall, participants as a whole spent most time viewing and fixating on calorie values, rating lower calorie values as healthy and those high as unhealthy. In terms of gender, male participants spent more time fixating on protein values, rating higher values as healthy, while females spent more time fixating on carbohydrate values, rating lower values as healthy. Participants at a high-risk for anorexia spent significantly more time viewing and fixating on fat values, rating lower values as healthy and higher values as unhealthy, while participants with a high drive for thinness spent most time viewing sugar and calorie values. CONCLUSION: Results from this study suggest that selective attentional biases affect perception to nutritional food labels and that those biases are influenced by both gender and presence of specific patterns of disordered-eating.
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