Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Systems (MSNFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Dietetics and Human Nutrition

First Advisor

Dr. Kyle Flack


Background: Excess weight and obesity are serious health conditions characterized by modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors. Exercise is a common method for achieving weight loss; however, results are not always achieved due to post-exercise compensatory behaviors. Increased energy intake (EI) is thought to be the main compensatory behavior hindering weight loss among overweight and obese adults. It is important to determine and understand the mechanisms behind energy compensation following exercise, as this will allow for the discovery of future interventions that may provide individuals with ways to improve exercise as a weight loss treatment.

Objective: To determine if a single dose of aerobic exercise will alter behavioral constructs known to promote energy intake. Methods: Thirty sedentary overweight to obese (BMI 25 kg/m2 and above) participants aged 18-35 years enrolled in a two-visit counterbalanced crossover design trial. The effects of an acute bout of aerobic exercise and sedentary activity on food reinforcement, attentional bias, and inhibitory control for food cues were assessed.

Results: Attentional bias for food cues increased following the acute bout of exercise while remaining stable after the acute bout of sedentary activity, independent of hunger. Exercise did not influence food reinforcement or inhibitory control for food cues.

Conclusions: An acute bout of exercise increased attentional bias toward food cues compared to sedentary activity, pointing to its potential role as a compensatory mechanism responsible for minimizing weight loss in sedentary adults classified as overweight or obese. More prolonged trials are needed to assess the effect attentional bias has during a longer exercise intervention.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the University of Kentucky by the Alice P Killpatrick Fellowship in Spring 2021 and the Buster Fellowship in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.