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Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal

Abstract

Eating while distracted (e.g., while watching television or in a conversation) or under cognitive stress (e.g., studying, reading, writing, etc.) has shown to increase food consumption, which can result in overeating. Frequent overeating is a major factor in the development of obesity, a serious health concern. The current study examined the potential benefits of mindful eating in a university setting where student eating habits are constantly influenced by environmental distractions and cognitive stress. Eighty undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either a mindful eating condition or control condition, followed by either a high or low cognitive stress condition. Cognitive stress was manipulated using frequent (i.e., low cognitive stress) and infrequent word (i.e, high cognitive stress) anagram tasks, during which participants were given two bowls of food to snack on; grapes and Smarties. Participants in the mindful eating condition ate significantly less food overall than participants in the control condition; however, the negative effects of cognitive stress on eating were not demonstrated.


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