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.