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14 The Impact of Visual Attention and Impulsivity on Disinhibited Eating Behaviors in Older Adults

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2023

Eliza Morgan*
Affiliation:
Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Nesha Harper
Affiliation:
Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Adriana Savettiere
Affiliation:
Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Sheila Mae Thompson
Affiliation:
Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
J. Kaci Fairchild
Affiliation:
Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA. Sierra Pacific Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA, USA. Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
*
Correspondence: Eliza Morgan, BA, Palo Alto University, emorgan@paloaltou.edu
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Abstract

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Objective:

Although the relationship between visual attention, impulsivity, and cognitively restrained eating patterns has been established in previous research, less is known about the relationship of cognitive processes and disinhibited eating patterns in older adults. Research postulates that disinhibited eating behaviors may be associated with stress, limited emotional capacity, anxiety, and impulsivity. The current study investigated impulsivity as a potential mediator of the relationship between visual attention and disinhibited eating in older veterans.

Participants and Methods:

This study included 101 Veterans who were screened as part of a larger study assessing the impact of multi-modal activity-based interventions on brain health in older adulthood. The sample included largely White (76%), male (94%) Veterans aged 54 to 88 (M = 70.1, SD 8.9). The Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire was used to assess daily disinhibited eating patterns, and attentional impulsivity was assessed with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Visual attention was evaluated using the Stroop Color Word Test (Color Trial). Mediation analyses were conducted using the SPSS PROCESS Macro. The outcome variable for analysis was disinhibited eating. The predictor variable was visual attention. The mediator variable was impulsivity. Body mass index (BMI) was included as a covariate as it was significantly associated with the predictor and outcome variables.

Results:

The indirect effect of visual attention on disinhibited eating was found to be statistically significant (effect = 0.06, 95%: 0.02, 0.12)

Conclusions:

Attentional impulsivity appears to mediate the relationship between visual attention and disinhibited eating behaviors. This finding extends the current literature about the relationship between visual attention, impulsivity, and other eating patterns (e.g., cognitively restrained eating) in older adults. Exploring this relationship helps us better understand the impact of eating habits through the aging process. Caregivers and older adults should be informed about the impact of increased impulsivity on disinhibited eating behaviors, especially in those with limited visual attention processes. Further understanding of the neurobiological impact of eating behaviors on cognition in older adulthood may assist in developing awareness about the importance of healthy eating patterns when considering brain health in the aging process.

Type
Poster Session 04: Aging | MCI
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2023