Over one third of American children are overweight. The standard method of treating these children is behavioral therapy designed to provide the child and parents with education, nutritional knowledge, exercise techniques and the skills necessary to modify behaviors. Statistics have shown that these methods are effective and that one in three children responds positively to this type of treatment. However, two thirds of children do not. “It is possible that the effects of biological and environmental factors cannot be overcome through behavioral therapy or that people who are overweight or obese are a heterogeneous group who do not respond to a single treatment,” said Kerri N. Boutelle of the Department of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of California in San Diego. “Thus, it is imperative to develop additional approaches to treat overweight and obese children in order to maximize efficacy for a larger number of patients.”
Boutelle theorized that targeted approaches, focusing primarily on children who eat in the absence of hunger (EAH), might work better. EAH is a primary indicator for obesity, quadrupling the risk for obesity in children. “Based on these data, EAH appears to be a viable target for treatment, and reduction in this type of overeating in childhood could reduce caloric intake and influence current or future obesity status during youth,” said Boutelle. For her study, Boutelle enrolled 36 obese children between the ages of 8 and 12, in a cue exposure intervention called Volcravo, or children’s appetite awareness training (CAAT). After eight weeks, she found that both methods helped the children stabilize their weight, but Volcravo directly decreased episodes of EAH. “Our data suggest that Volcravo might be efficacious in the reduction of EAH, considering the significant reduction found at post-treatment and even 6 months post-treatment, but that children’s appetite awareness training CAAT had very little effect on EAH,” said Boutelle. She added, “This study demonstrates that training in food cue responsitivity and appetite awareness has the potential to be efficacious for reducing EAH and binge eating in children.”
Boutelle, Kerri N., Nancy L. Zucker, Carol B. Peterson, Sarah A. Rydell, Guy Cafri, and Lisa Harnack. “Two Novel Treatments to Reduce Overeating in Overweight Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 79.6 (2011): 759-71. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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