From cookies to carrots; the effect of inhibitory control training on children's snack selections.
Porter L., Bailey-Jones C., Priudokaite G., Allen S., Wood K., Stiles K., Parvin O., Javaid M., Verbruggen F., Lawrence NS.
Children consume too much sugar and not enough fruit and vegetables, increasing their risk of adverse health outcomes. Inhibitory control training (ICT) reduces children's and adults' intake of energy-dense foods in both laboratory and real-life settings. However, no studies have yet examined whether ICT can increase healthy food choice when energy-dense options are also available. We investigated whether a food-specific Go/No-Go task could influence the food choices of children aged 4-11, as measured by a hypothetical food choice task using healthy and unhealthy food images printed on cards. Participants played either an active game (healthy foods = 100% go, unhealthy foods = 100% no-go; Studies 1 & 2), a food control game (both healthy and unhealthy foods = 50% go, 50% no-go; Studies 1 & 2) or a non-food control game (sports equipment = 100% go, technology = 100% no-go; Study 2 only) followed by the choice task. In Study 2, food card choices were also measured before training to examine change in choices. A post-training real food choice task was added to check that choices made in the card-based task were representative of choices made when faced with real healthy and unhealthy foods. Overall, the active group chose the greatest number of healthy food cards. Study 2 confirmed that this was due to increases in healthy food card choice in this group only. Active group participants chose a greater number of healthy foods in the real food choice task compared to children in the non-food control group only. The results are discussed with reference to methodological issues and the development of future healthy eating interventions.