Effects of Food Exposure on Food Preference (open-access article online)

The online publication of the following article is now available via the link below:

Dutriaux, L., Papies, E.K., Fallon, J., Garcia-Marques, L., & Barsalou, L.W. (2021). Incidental exposure to hedonic and healthy food features affects food preferences one day later. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. Open-access online publication.

Abstract:  Memories acquired incidentally from exposure to food information in the environment may often become active to later affect food preferences.  Because conscious use of these memories is not requested or required, these incidental learning effects constitute a form of indirect memory.  In an experiment using a novel food preference paradigm (n = 617), we found that brief incidental exposure to hedonic versus healthy food features indirectly affected food preferences a day later, explaining approximately 10% of the variance in preferences for tasty versus healthy foods.  It follows that brief incidental exposure to food information can affect food preferences indirectly for at least a day.  When hedonic and health exposure were each compared to a no-exposure baseline, a general effect of hedonic exposure emerged across individuals, whereas health exposure only affected food preferences for high-BMI individuals.  This pattern suggests that focusing attention on hedonic food features engages common affective processes across the general population, whereas focusing attention on healthy food features engages eating restraint goals associated with high-BMI.  Additionally, incidental exposure to food features primarily changed preferences for infrequently consumed foods, having less impact on habitually consumed foods.  These findings offer insight into how hedonic information in the obesogenic food environment contributes to unhealthy eating behavior that leads to overweight and obesity.  These findings further motivate the development of interventions that counteract the effects of exposure to hedonic food information and that broaden the effects of exposure to healthy food information.