Children's inhibitory control abilities in the presence of rewards are related to weight status and eating in the absence of hunger

S. Adise, C. N. White, N. J. Roberts, C. F. Geier, K. L. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Reflective-Impulsive Dual Processes Model suggests that overeating occurs when the temptation to consume food overrides inhibitory control processes. However, how rewards interact with inhibitory control and their relation to children's weight status and food intake is not understood. Here, 7-to-11-year-old children (n = 66; 32 overweight/obese) completed two versions (baseline [i.e., non-reward incentivized/control] and reward incentivized [food, money, no reward]) of a Go/Nogo task. Intake of palatable foods in the absence of hunger (i.e., eating in the absence of hunger-EAH) was measured following a standardized meal. A drift diffusion model was used to characterize children's performance parameters on the Go/Nogo. On the baseline Go/Nogo, children with higher weight status responded more cautiously, but on reward trials for food/money children were more cautions and made more false alarms relative to the no reward condition. Energy intake during EAH positively correlated with FA errors for food and money vs. no reward, but sex moderated this effect such that FA positively associated with EAH in girls but not boys. Independent of sex, FA for money vs. no reward and food vs. money were both positively associated with energy consumed during EAH. These results suggest that the presence of food and money rewards impair inhibitory control processing, especially in children with higher weight status. Further, increased inhibitory control impairment in response to food rewards, specifically, may be a risk factor for disinhibited eating in girls. Though preliminary, results may be useful in the development of targeted treatments to help moderate excess consumption in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105610
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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