The Effectiveness of Sweet Foods Specific-Inhibitory Control Training (SF-ICT) Aplication on Sweet Food Choice and Intake

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. Student in health psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor of psychology, Faculty of psychology and education, Kharazmi University of Tehran, Iran.

3 Professor of Psychology, Faculty of psychology and education, Kharazmi university of Tehran, Iran.


Introduction: The aim of the present study was to introduce the theoretical bases and stages of the development and effectiveness of Sweet Foods Specific-Inhibitory Control Training. This training was first designed as a mobile app to reduce the sweet foods choice and intake among children.
Method: A single subject study with A-B-A design was used. Three primary school children with extreme obesity were selected by purposeful sampling. Measurement were performed using Food Craving Questionnaire-Reduced, Bogus Taste Test and Food Intake Test. Then, the intervention sessions were conducted in 7 sessions of individual training and follow-up was completed two months later. Visual analysis of graphs, trend index, stability, percentage of non-overlapping and overlapping data and effect size were used for data analysis.
Results: The results showed that inhibition control training through this mobile application not only reduced the children's craving for sweet foods (d = 1.16), but also reduced the sweet food choice (d = 1.48) and sweet food intake (d = 1.48).
Conclusion: The results confirm the effectiveness of this application as a low-cost, short-term preventive and therapeutic tool for reducing craving, sweet food choice and intake among children.


1. Littman R, Takács Á. Do all inhibitions act alike? A study of go/no-go and stop-signal paradigms. PLoS One [Internet]. 2017 Oct 24;12(10):e0186774–e0186774. Available from:
2. Diamond A. Executive Functions. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2014;64:135–68.
3. Luna B, Padmanabhan A, O’Hearn K. What has fMRI told us about the Development of Cognitive Control through Adolescence? Brain Cogn [Internet]. 2010;72(1):101–13. Available from:; 08. 005
4. Davidson MC, Amso D, Anderson LC, Diamond A. Developmental of Cognitive Control and Executive Function from 4 to 13 years: Evidence from mainpulations of memory, inhibition, and Task Switching. Neuropsychologia. 2006; 44(11): 2037–78.
5. Kohl S, Heekeren K, Klosterkotter J, Kuhn J. Prepulse inhibition in psychiatric disorders--apart from schizophrenia. J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Apr; 47(4): 445–52.
6. Selten M, van Bokhoven H, Nadif Kasri N. Inhibitory control of the excitatory/inhibitory balance in psychiatric disorders. F1000Research [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 Jul 22]; 7: 23. Available from:
7. Fosco WD, Kofler MJ, Alderson RM, Tarle SJ, Raiker JS, Sarver DE. Inhibitory Control and Information Processing in ADHD: Comparing the Dual Task and Performance Adjustment Hypotheses. J Abnorm Child Psychol [Internet]. 2019;47(6):961–74. Available from:
8. Eagle DM, Bari A, Robbins TW. The neuropsychopharmacology of action inhibition: Cross-species translation of the stop-signal and go/no-go tasks. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008; 199(3): 439–56.
9. Reinert KRS, Po EK, Barkin SL. The Relationship between Executive Function and Obesity in Children and Adolescents : A Systematic Literature Review. 2013; 2013(2).
10. Kamijo K, Khan NA, Pontifex MB, Scudder MR, Drollette ES, Raine LB, et al. The Relation of Adiposity to Cognitive Control and Scholastic Achievement in Preadolescent Children. 2012; 20(12).
11. Groppe K, Elsner B. The influence of hot and cool executive function on the development of eating styles related to overweight in children ☆. 2015; 87: 127–36.
12. Lavagnino L, Arnone D, Cao B, Soares JC, Selvaraj S. Inhibitory control in obesity and binge eating disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev [Internet]. 2016; 68: 714–26. Available from:
13. Hayes JF, Eichen DM, Barch DM, Wilfley E. AC Corresponding Author : Appetite [Internet]. 2017; Available from:
14. Guerrieri R, Nederkoorn C, Stankiewicz K, Alberts H, Geschwind N, Martijn C, et al. The influence of trait and induced state impulsivity on food intake in normal-weight healthy women. Appetite [Internet]. 2007; 49(1): 66–73. Available from:
15. Houben K, Nederkoorn C, Jansen A. Eating on impulse: the relation between overweight and food-specific inhibitory control. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 May; 22(5): E6-8.
16. Nederkoorn C, Braet C, Van Eijs Y, Tanghe A, Jansen A. Why obese children cannot resist food: The role of impulsivity. Eat Behav [Internet]. 2006; 7(4): 315–22. Available from:
17. Nederkoorn C, Coelho JS, Guerrieri R, Houben K, Jansen A. Specificity of the failure to inhibit responses in overweight children. Appetite. 2012 Oct; 59(2): 409–13.
18. Dohle S, Diel K, Hofmann W. Executive functions and the self-regulation of eating behavior: A review. Appetite [Internet]. 2017; 1–6. Available from:
19. Verbeken S, Braet C, Goossens L, van der Oord S. Executive function training with game elements for obese children: A novel treatment to enhance self-regulatory abilities for weight-control. Behav Res Ther [Internet]. 2013; 51(6): 290–9. Available from:
20. Aron AR, Robbins TW, Poldrack RA. Inhibition and the right inferior frontal cortex. Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Apr; 8(4): 170–7.
21. Friedman NP, Miyake A. The relations among inhibition and interference control functions: a latent-variable analysis. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2004 Mar; 133(1): 101–35.
22. Aron AR, Poldrack RA. The cognitive neuroscience of response inhibition: relevance for genetic research in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun; 57(11): 1285–92.
23. Schachar R, Logan GD, Robaey P, Chen S, Ickowicz A, Barr C. Restraint and cancellation: multiple inhibition deficits in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2007 Apr; 35(2): 229–38.
24. Simmonds DJ, Pekar JJ, Mostofsky SH. Meta-analysis of Go/No-go tasks demonstrating that fMRI activation associated with response inhibition is task-dependent. Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan; 46(1): 224–32.
25. Verbruggen F, Logan GD. Response inhibition in the stop-signal paradigm. Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Nov; 12(11): 418–24.
26. Lawrence NS, O’Sullivan J, Parslow D, Javaid M, Adams RC, Chambers CD, et al. Training response inhibition to food is associated with weight loss and reduced energy intake. Appetite [Internet]. 2015; 95: 17–28. Available from:
27. Chen Z, Veling H, Dijksterhuis A, Holland RW. How does not responding to appetitive stimuli cause devaluation: Evaluative conditioning or response inhibition? J Exp Psychol Gen. 2016 Dec; 145(12): 1687–701.
28. Houben K, Jansen A. Training inhibitory control. A recipe for resisting sweet temptations. Appetite [Internet]. 2011; 56(2): 345–9. Available from:
29. Veling H, Lawrence NS, Chen Z, van Koningsbruggen GM, Holland RW. What Is Trained During Food Go/No-Go Training? A Review Focusing on Mechanisms and a Research Agenda. Curr Addict Reports [Internet]. 2017; 4(1): 35–41. Available from:
30. Adams RC, Lawrence NS, Verbruggen F, Chambers CD. Training response inhibition to reduce food consumption: Mechanisms, stimulus specificity and appropriate training protocols. Appetite [Internet]. 2017; 109: 11–23. Available from:
31. Veling H, Aarts H, Papies EK. Using stop signals to inhibit chronic dieters’ responses toward palatable foods. Behav Res Ther [Internet]. 2011; 49(11): 771–80. Available from:
32. Folkvord F, Veling H, Hoeken H. Targeting implicit approach reactions to snack food in children: Effects on intake. Health Psychol. 2016 Aug; 35(8): 919–22.
33. Veling H, Aarts H, Stroebe W. Using stop signals to reduce impulsive choices for palatable unhealthy foods. Vol. 18, British journal of health psychology. 2012.
34. Veling H, Aarts H, Stroebe W. Using stop signals to reduce impulsive choices for palatable unhealthy foods. Br J Health Psychol. 2013; 18(2): 354–68.
35. van Koningsbruggen GM, Veling H, Stroebe W, Aarts H. Comparing two psychological interventions in reducing impulsive processes of eating behaviour: effects on self-selected portion size. Br J Health Psychol. 2014 Nov; 19(4): 767–82.
36. Veling H, Koningsbruggen GM Van, Aarts H, Stroebe W. Targeting impulsive processes of eating behavior via the internet. Effects on body weight ☆. Appetite [Internet]. 2014;78:102–9. Available from: 2014; 03. 014
37. Jiang Q, He D, Guan W, He X. “Happy goat says”: The effect of a food selection inhibitory control training game of children’s response inhibition on eating behavior. Appetite. 2016; 1(107): 25–9.
38. Porter L, Bailey-Jones C, Priudokaite G, Allen S, Wood K, Stiles K, et al. From cookies to carrots; the effect of inhibitory control training on children’s snack selections. Appetite [Internet]. 2017; 1(124): 111–23. Available from:
39. Verbruggen F, Best M, Bowditch WA, Stevens T, McLaren IPL. The inhibitory control reflex. Neuropsychologia. 2014 Dec;65:263–78.
40. Goodwin KA, Goodwin CJ. Research in psychology : methods and design [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jul 22]. 455 p. Available from: us/Research+in+Psychology%3A+Methods+and+Design%2C+8th+Edition-p-9781119330448
41. Cozby PC, Bates S. Methods in behavioral research. 13th Editi. 2018; 428 p.
42. moghaddaszadeh bazzaz M, Fadardi J, Parkinson J. Efficacy of the attention control program on reducing attentional bias in obese and overweight dieters. Vol. 108, Appetite. 2016; 1–11 p.
43. Houben K, Jansen A. Chocolate equals stop: Chocolate-specific inhibition training reduces chocolate intake and go associations with chocolate. Appetite [Internet]. 2015; 87: 318–23. Available from:
44. Charbonnier L, van Meer F, van der Laan LN, Viergever MA, Smeets PAM. Standardized food images: A photographing protocol and image database. Appetite [Internet]. 2016; 96: 166–73. Available from:
45. Cepeda-Benito A, Gleaves DH, S TLW, Erath SA. The Development and Validation of the State and Trait Food-Cravings Questionnaires. Behav Ther. 2000; 31(1): 151–73.
46. Meule A, Hermann T, Kübler A. A short version of the Food Cravings Questionnaire - Trait : The FCQ-T- A short version of the Food Cravings Questionnaire — Trait : the FCQ-T-reduced. 2014; (March).
47. Hormes JM, Meule A. Psychometric properties of the English Food Cravings Questionnaire-Trait- reduced (FCQ-T-r) Eating Behaviors Psychometric properties of the English Food Cravings. Eat Behav [Internet]. 2016; 20: 34–8. Available from: 2015. 11.011
48. Memarian, Sepideh Moradi A, Hassani J. Validation and Psychometric Prpperties of Chocolate and Sweets Versions of Food Craving Questionnaire-Trait-Reduced (FCQ-T-r) in Primery School Children. journla Fundam Ment Heal. 1398.
49. Steinglass J, Foerde K, Kostro K, Shohamy D, Walsh BT. Restrictive food intake as a choice—A paradigm for study. Int J Eat Disord [Internet]. 2015 Jan 1; 48(1): 59–66. Available from:
50. Higgs S, Thomas J. Social influences on eating [Internet]. Vol. 9, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier; 2016 [cited 2019 Jan 8]. p. 1–6. Available from:
51. Lane JD, Gast DL. Visual analysis in single case experimental design studies: brief review and guidelines. Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2014; 24(3–4): 445–63.
52. Farahani H, Abedi A, Agha Mohammadi S, Kazemi Z. Applied Priciples of Single Subject Design in Behavioral and Medical Sciences Research. Tehran: Psychology and Art Publications. 2017.
53. Kamijo K, Khan NA, Pontifex MB, Scudder MR, Drollette ES, Raine LB, et al. The Relation of Adiposity to Cognitive Control and Scholastic Achievement in Preadolescent Children. Obesity [Internet]. 2012; 20(12): 2406–11. Available from: 2012; 112.
54. Groppe K, Elsner B. The influence of hot and cool executive function on the development of eating styles related to overweight in children. Appetite. 2015; 87: 127–36.
55. Lawrence NS, Verbruggen F, Morrison S, Adams RC, Chambers CD. Stopping to food can reduce intake. Effects of stimulus-specificity and individual differences in dietary restraint. Appetite [Internet]. 2015 Feb 1; 85: 91–103. Available from:
56. Veling H, Aarts H, Stroebe W, Nolan LJ, Nederkoorn C. Stop signals decrease choices for palatable foods through decreased food evaluation. Front Psychol. 2013; 4(November): 1–7.
57. Kakoschke N, Hawker C, Castine B, de Courten B, Verdejo-Garcia A. Smartphone-based cognitive bias modification training improves healthy food choice in obesity: A pilot study. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2018; 26(5): 526–32.
58. Oh SJ, Seo S, Lee JH, Song MJ, Shin M-S. Effects of smartphone-based memory training for older adults with subjective memory complaints: a randomized controlled trial. Aging Ment Health. 2018 Apr; 22(4): 526–34.
59. Birch LL, Fisher JO. Development of eating behaviors among children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 1998 Mar; 101(3 Pt 2): 539–49.
60. Karbach J, Unger K. Executive control training from middle childhood to adolescence. Front Psychol. 2014; 5(MAY): 1–14.