Novel approaches to control over-eating in children

Overcome over eating habitResearchers have developed new methods to control overeating in children. Researchers worked on this research as they found that behavioral therapy techniques often fail to work.

This research has been done by Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and collaborators, and has been published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Researchers have described two new methods. These methods are aimed at not only improving responses to internal hunger but also decreasing psychological and physiological responses to food surrounding somebody.

In this research, 36 obese 8-12 year old children were taken have the habit of high levels of overeating. They and their parent were assigned to eight weeklong training. Researchers made two treatment groups i.e. appetite awareness training and cue exposure training. In the appetite awareness training, parents and children were trained to recognize and give response to hunger and satiety cues while in the cue exposure-training parents and children were trained to resist the food in front of them.

Children completed an eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) paradigm, an Eating Disorder Examination interview for children, and three 24-hr dietary recalls, and their height and weight were measured. Parents completed the EAH Questionnaire and the Binge Eating Scale, and their height and weight were measured. Assessments were conducted at baseline, posttreatment, and 6 and 12 months posttreatment.

Researchers found that the both of the methods had resulted in decreased binge eating in children over time. Moreover, children in food cue exposure treatment revealed significant decreases in EAH post-treatment.

“These findings are exciting because they offer a completely new paradigm for controlling overeating and binge eating,” Boutelle said.  “By reducing overeating and binge eating, we hope to provide a new way of preventing weight gain and providing children with a sense of control over what they chose to eat.   This is really important, because a loss of control can lead to depression and other psychiatric problems, and of course childhood obesity.”


Boutelle, Kerri N.; Zucker, Nancy L.; Peterson, Carol B.; Rydell, Sarah A.; Cafri, Guy; Harnack, Lisa, (2011). Two novel treatments to reduce overeating in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, doi: 10.1037/a0025713

Further Reading:

University of California – San Diego, News Center

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