Anhedonia is an Important Mediator of Performance on the Iowa Gambling Task in Individuals With Obesity

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Mood disorders may influence decision making in individuals with greater adiposity. The authors hypothesized that individuals with obesity with a high level of anhedonia have poorer decision making abilities, measured by performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Data from 116 obese (≥30 kg/m2) individuals (50 men/66 women; 34 years ±9) completed the IGT, Physical Anhedonia Scale (PAS), Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology, and the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (while on a weight maintaining diet. Lower IGT scores (i.e., poorer performance) were negatively associated with higher waist circumference (r = −.20; p = .035), greater anhedonia (r = −.33; p < .001) and, positively associated with cognitive restraint (ρ = .18; p = .05). In a multivariate linear model, only anhedonia remained associated (ß = −0.7; p = .02) with IGT score. With repetition, individuals with low levels of anhedonia improved their performance over the task (Z = −2.52; p = .02). Furthermore, individuals with low anhedonia displayed an advantageous learning pattern while those with high anhedonia did not show any indication of learning (F = 2.81; p = .02). These findings indicate a link between a lack of pleasure and adaptive decision making in individuals with greater adiposity.

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