Temptations to Eat Moderated by Personal and Environmental Self-regulatory Tools

(funded by the EU, FP7)

The prevalence of overweight amongst European children and adolescents has risen at an alarming rate in the past decades, with major repercussions for their health in the short and long term. Existing prevention programmes to combat the epidemic either highlight a public health approach (employing incentive schemes such as taxing of foods) or an individual-educational approach to encourage young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Until now, both approaches have met with limited success.

The aim of the TEMPEST project is to investigate how both approaches may complement each other in order to develop more effective preventive interventions. Public health approaches to prevent overweight are important as they are easy-to-implement and can be employed independently from active participation of the target group. However, they may be powerless in an ‘obesogenic’ environment that is characterized by huge amounts of food and inactivity temptations.

The TEMPEST project introduces the novel concept of self-regulatory competence (SRC; the ability to inhibit unwanted responses to temptations) for dealing with such temptations as the key factor in prevention of overweight. The main hypothesis states that increasing SRC allows youth to take better advantage of public health efforts that draw on (non)financial incentive schemes, and will be examined in nine European countries which vary in their public health policies and programmes.

The project has four major objectives: 1) Develop a youth-specific SRC Scale for dealing with weight-related temptations that is culturally valid across Europe; 2) Determine the impact of existing incentive schemes and other socio-economic and socio-cultural factors on SRC and weight-related behaviours; 3) Examine the influence of new, experimental incentive schemes on SRC and weight-related behaviours; and 4) Determine the impact of temptations on SRC and weight-related behaviours in social contexts that differ in their appreciation of SRC.