Attentional bias for reward and punishment in overweight and obesity: The TRAILS study

Jonker, N. (Creator), Glashouwer, K. (Creator), Ostafin, B. (Creator), University of Groningen, 2016



More than 80% of obese adolescents will become obese adults, and it is therefore important to enhance insight into characteristics that underlie the development and maintenance of overweight and obesity at a young age. The current study is the first to focus on attentional biases towards rewarding and punishing cues as potentially important factors. Participants were young adolescents (N = 607) who were followed from the age of 13 until the age of 19, and completed a motivational game indexing the attentional bias to general cues of reward and punishment. Additionally, self-reported reward and punishment sensitivity was measured. This study showed that attentional biases to cues that signal reward or punishment and self-reported reward and punishment sensitivity were not related to body mass index or the change in body mass index over six years in adolescents. Thus, attentional bias to cues of reward and cues of punishment, and self-reported reward and punishment sensitivity, do not seem to be crucial factors in the development and maintenance of overweight and obesity in adolescents. Exploratory analyses of the current study suggest that the amount of effort to gain reward and to avoid punishment may play a role in the development and maintenance of overweight and obesity. However, since the effort measure was a construct based on face validity and has not been properly validated, more studies are necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn. The current study reports on data from the second (T2), third (T3) and fourth (T4) assessment waves [32]. During T2, which ran from September 2003 to December 2004, 2,149 adolescents participated (96.4% of the initial sample). During T3, which ran from September 2005 to August 2007, 1,816 adolescents participated (81.4% of the initial sample). T4 ran from October 2008 to September 2010, and 1,881 adolescents participated (84.3% of the initial sample). During T3 a series of laboratory tasks were performed on top of the general assessments. The spatial orientation task (SOT) was the first of these laboratory tasks. For the laboratory tasks a focus group of 744 participants was invited, of which 715 (96%) agreed to participate. Adolescents with a high risk of mental health problems were overrepresented in this focus group. High risk was defined based on temperament (high frustration and fearfulness, low effortful control), lifetime parental psychopathology (depression, anxiety, addiction, antisocial behavior or psychoses), and/or living in a single parent family. Of the focus cohort 66.2% had at least one of these risk factors. The remaining 33.8% were randomly selected from the low-risk TRAILS participants. It is possible to represent the TRAILS distribution in this focus cohort by means of sampling weights.
Date made available2016
PublisherUniversity of Groningen
Temporal coverage2003 - 2010
Geographical coverageThe Netherlands
Access to the dataset Open

    Keywords on Datasets

  • Attentional bias , Reward sensitivity, Punishment sensitivity , Overweight , Obesity, BMI , Adolescents
Related Publications
  1. Attentional Bias for Reward and Punishment in Overweight and Obesity: The TRAILS Study

    Jonker, N. C., Glashouwer, K. A., Ostafin, B. D., van Hemel-ruiter, M. E., Smink, F. R. E., Hoek, H. W. & de Jong, P. J., 8-Jul-2016, In : PLoS ONE. 11, 7, 18 p., e0157573.

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