Do Distant Foods Decrease Intake?
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Background. The abundant availability of tempting unhealthy food in the current environment has been blamed for the high prevalence of overweight. Making tempting but unhealthy food less accessible has been proposed as a useful strategy for cooling down the temptation. The accessibility of food creates a self-regulation dilemma requiring individuals to choose between either or not eating and to regulate amount of intake. In the present study, we investigated whether decreasing accessibility of unhealthy snacks by increasing distance can reduce intake. Method. In a lab environment, healthy female participants (N=81) were presented unobtrusively with unhealthy snacks in one of three conditions. Distance to the snacks and thus accessibility was varied across conditions and was either 20, 70 or 140 centimetres. Results. Despite equal craving and wanting, participants in either distant condition ate less snacks than those in the proximal condition and were less likely to eat at all. Discussion. Making unhealthy snacks less easily accessible appears to be an effective strategy in cooling down the temptation, and decreasing the probability and amount of intake. Follow-up studies will be conducted to assess the underlying mechanism and potential for implementation in health promoting interventions.