A behavioural modification intervention to reduce snack food consumption focusing on external situational cues: The case study you can't read between meals without ruining your appetite!


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Eat, Sleep, Work

Subject: Education, Multidisciplinary - Social Sciences


ISSN: 2205-0612
eISSN: 2206-5369





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VOLUME 1 , ISSUE 1 (December 2016) > List of articles

A behavioural modification intervention to reduce snack food consumption focusing on external situational cues: The case study you can't read between meals without ruining your appetite!

Nicola Brewer

Keywords : case study; behaviour modification; snacking; diet; single systems design

Citation Information : Eat, Sleep, Work. Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 65-71, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21913/JDRSSesw.v1i1.1221

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Published Online: 10-September-2020



Currently, obesity is a leading threat to optimal health and wellbeing in Australia. Offsetting risks of acute and chronic disease and disability, a balanced diet offers a sound investment against premature morbidity and mortality commonly associated with obesity. Demonstrated empirically to lead to weight gain, consumption of snack foods lacking in nutritional value (“indulgences”) threatens a healthy lifestyle and is as prevalent as 90% in some populations. Thus, finding strategies to counteract habitual snacking on “indulgences” is imperative. External stimuli (objects, events or people) can influence food consumption. Changing exposure to external cues may be used to reduce snacking. This case study (n=1) investigated effects of a behavioural modification intervention using classical and operant conditioning techniques to reduce snack food ingestion over one week. Specifically, modifications to situational cues including meal versus snack schema activation and a fixed-interval sweet reward provided a holistic ‘internal-external’ environmental strategic approach. One hypothesis was proposed; the intervention would be associated with a reduction in snack food consumption during the seven-day intervention period. Results indicated the number of snacks consumed was significantly reduced during the intervention. While methodological limitations precluded causal claims and strength and direction of relationships, evidence supported a behavioural modification approach to reduce snacking. Moreover, results demonstrate the complexity of human eating behaviours, Rather than attributing overeating to individual “choice,” findings highlight a number of situational factors that may be altered to reduce snacking on indulgent foods.

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