New methods could change the way people eat, expert says

8 December 2011

A new method to prevent children from overeating and becoming overweight has been suggested by one expert, who stated that current therapies limiting what youngsters can eat are often not functional.

Kerri Boutelle, associate professor of psychiatry and paediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has revealed a new two-step method of helping children to make better choices about what food they consume.

Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the study by Ms Boutelle suggested that appetite awareness training could be beneficial to children as well as adults. This includes training to recognise hunger and respond to it appropriately.

Additionally, a cue exposure teaches people to tolerate cravings to reduce overeating.

Ms Boutelle said: "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."

The project aims to teach parents and children about how the environment tricks people into eating even when they are not hungry.

In a recent study, experts at Cornell University found that if people had a bowl of sweets and chocolates within reach on their desk, they ate 125 calories a day out of habit and temptation.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Boutelle, Kerri, et al., "Two novel treatments to reduce overeating in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial", Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, December 2011

Wansink, Brian, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think", 2006

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