Visual attention to food cues and the course of anorexia nervosa

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Previously, adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) showed reduced attentional engagement with food cues compared to adolescents without eating disorder (Jonker, Glashouwer, Hoekzema, Ostafin, & De Jong, 2019). This study tested whether (i) improvement in eating disorder symptoms and BMI are related to an increase in attentional engagement with food, and whether (ii) relatively low attentional engagement is related to persistent AN symptomatology, in the same sample of adolescents with AN (N = 69) from the study of Jonker et al. (2019). Eating disorder symptoms, BMI, and attention for food cues were measured during baseline and at one year follow-up. Adolescents with AN showed a substantial improvement in symptoms and BMI. However, their low attentional engagement with food cues remained unchanged. Change in attentional engagement with food was not related to change in symptoms, nor was low baseline attentional engagement with food predictive of symptom persistence. These findings indicate that improvement in AN symptoms does not seem to require an increase in attentional engagement with food.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103649
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2020


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Attentional bias
  • Engagement
  • Food
  • BIAS

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