Food-related thinking styles and cultural influences on weight gain

Helena Wehling, Joanne Lusher

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Obesity is a growing health epidemic with a constant rise in weight-related medical conditions, premature deaths and detrimental psychological outcomes, which places a burden on multiple aspects of health systems. Underlying psychological factors, especially cognitive mechanisms, still receive little attention in the literature, despite their link to high body weight. The present study aimed to identify food-related thoughts as predictors of weight gain. The sample mainly consisted of women who were recruited on social media platforms (N = 139). A regression analysis was performed with Food Thought Suppression, Preoccupation with Food, Body Mass Index, educational level, ethnicity and age as predictors of body weight. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to identify differences between weight categories. While the regression showed no significant link between body weight and Food Thought Suppression and Food Preoccupation, Afro-Caribbean ethnicity was associated with a higher weight status (r = .321). Additional meaningful correlations were found between food thought suppression and negative valence of food (r = .816), food thought frequency and negative valence of food (r = -.521), as well as for food thought frequency and food thought suppression (r = .587). The present findings support a link between dieting and negative thinking, which foster unhealthy eating patterns. Future research should increasingly define cultural variables for tailoring weight loss programmes in Afro-Caribbean communities, as this group has a particular need for weight management. Furthermore, positive reframing of negative food-related thoughts may offer a promising gateway to foster healthier eating patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-108
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology and Cognitive Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019


  • Food
  • Eating
  • Behaviour
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Change
  • Thinking Styles
  • Culture


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