Using stop signals to inhibit chronic dieters' responses toward palatable foods

Harm Veling*, Henk Aarts, Esther K. Papies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Palatable foods in the environment can unintentionally trigger reactions to obtain them, which may interfere with dieting attempts. We tested a strategy to facilitate dieting behavior that makes use of behavioral stop signals that should instantly inhibit chronic dieters' responses toward palatable foods. Participants performed a go/no-go task in which go cues and no-go cues (i.e., the behavioral stop signals) were presented with pictures of palatable foods and control objects. In Study 1, we tested the immediate behavioral effect of presenting stop signals near palatable foods in a reaction time paradigm. In Study 2 we assessed consumption of palatable food that had either consistently been associated with no-go cues, or not. Results show that no-go cues instantly inhibited responses toward palatable foods especially among chronic dieters. Moreover, across a one day period chronic dieters consumed less of a food that had consistently been associated with no-go cues. Stop signals thus appear a promising tool for chronic dieters to control behavior to palatable foods, and we discuss the merits and potential applications of this tool for facilitating dieting behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-780
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Dieting
  • Food
  • Impulse
  • Inhibition
  • Self-control

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