Overeating, whether in children or adults, often takes place even in the absence of hunger, resulting in weight gain and obesity. Current methods to treat such overeating in youth focus on therapies that restrict what kids may eat, requiring them to track their food intake and engage in intensive exercise.
But for most children, such behavioral therapy techniques don't work long term, according to Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Boutelle and colleagues are developing new ways to treat overeating in children and adults.
Their study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology this week, describes two new methods for reducing overeating. The overall aim of these studies is to improve responses to internal hunger and satiety cues and decrease physiological and psychological responses to foods in the environment. Basically, how do we learn to stop eating when we are no longer hungry?
The first treatment group, called appetite awareness training, trains children and parents to recognize, and appropriately respond to, hunger and satiety cues. The other treatment group, called cue exposure training, trains children and their parents to resist the food that is in front of them.
"We teach children and parents how the environment tricks us into eating foods even when we're not hungry," said Boutelle, citing examples of food triggers such as TV commercials, the abundance of easy-to-eat and high-calories snacks, and the use of food as a reward.
In this study, 36 obese 8-to-12-year olds with high levels of overeating and their parents were assigned to eight-week-long training, either in appetite awareness or a cue-exposure treatment. Children were provided a toolbox of coping skills to "ride out their cravings" identifying such cravings and learning strategies to ride them out until the urges d
|Contact: Debra Kain|
University of California - San Diego