To find out how effective the traditional method of diet and exercise is in losing weight, scientists studied children to get their reaction.
Overeating is something we all do, whether we are young or old and even if we’re not hungry. Changing this repetitive and destructive habit requires a lifestyle change and some serious behavioral therapy.
A recent study out of the University of California, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology looked at a couple of different methods to help overeating.
These studies focused on reprogramming natural responses to satiety and internal hunger cues. Scientists also brought cognitive therapy into the mix by working on the psychological and physiological response to foods in any given situation.
The first method was called Appetite Awareness Training that focused on learning the difference between being full and actual hunger. The second method was called Cue Exposure Training that focused on resisting temptation – something like that old dog trick, where you sit your dog down in front of a delicious treat and he sits there and drools, not touching the food until he’s given the command.
“We teach children and parents how the environment tricks us into eating foods even when we’re not hungry,” said Kerri Boutelle, PhD and lead study author, 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.
This study lasted eight weeks and provided the participants with coping skills and ideas to help resist temptation and the urge to overeat. Test subjects were also taught how to manage their overeating and listen to their body’s hunger cues and food-related moods.
The results were recorded for body weight, overeating, binge eating and caloric intake.
“While this was a pilot study, our initial results suggest that the ‘cue exposure’ approach might be very helpful in reduction of eating in the absence of hunger,” said Boutelle. She added that significant reduction in such overeating was found in the cue-exposure group, even six months post-treatment, though there was very little long-term impact on overeating in the appetite awareness group. There was only a small effect on body weight and no effect on reported calories eaten in either group; however, both approaches resulted in decreased binge eating in children and their parents
“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.”
University of California – San Diego. “New approach to management of overeating in children.” ScienceDaily, 7 Dec. 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2011