It may seem like beating a dead horse: you hear it over, and over and over again . . . “the obesity epidemic
.” Unfortunately, it’s rather essential to beat that dead horse, given that the obesity rate in children and adolescents has tripled since 1980; and that over 12 million kids aged two to 19 are obese.
So, really . . . what are we going to do about it? Keep beating that dead horse? Or actually take some action? And if there’s action to be taken – what should be the course of action
Many worrying parents are turning to behavioral therapy
for a solution to their children's overeating habits. These methods can provide highly restrictive meal menus for the children, require the kids to keep detailed notes about what they consume, and engage them in rigorous exercise.
Unfortunately, most of these methods fail to work long term, which ultimately becomes a failed experiment. Luckily, two new methods of treating overeating in kids have been developed by Kerri Boutelle, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and her fellow colleagues. A New Approach
Recently published online by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
, the research paper describes the two new methods for reducing overeating habits in children. The studies had the overall intention of improving a child's response to internal hunger cues and decrease the effect that physiological and psychological cues have on the child's need for food. In short, the two methods provide a very effective way to learn how to stop eating when we are no longer hungry
, and instructs on how to combat the relentless television ads and ease of access to fast food and snacks
The first treatment for overeating is called appetite awareness training
, and serves to train children and parents on how to recognize and respond to specific hunger cues. The second treatment is called cue exposure training
, and trains children on how to resist food advertisements as well as the “easy-to-eat” food that is constantly in front of them at home. Details of the Study
For the experiments, 36 obese children ages 8 to 12 and their parents were assigned to either the appetite awareness training or cue exposure training, and participated in the 8 week study. After being given instruction on the possible ways to cope with hunger, the children continually experienced a significant reduction in urges related to food.
Out of the two, the researchers found that the cue exposure program was the most effective, even six months after the study had taken place. On the other hand, the appetite awareness training did have an impact on children's overeating habits, but after the six month period did not have nearly the same effect as the cue exposure training.
These two methods are great ways to control overeating habits because it trains you into recognizing the difference between true hunger and imagined hunger, and helps you fight the slew of television ads and colorful packaging
that make certain foods even more “attractive” to eat. Because of this, the training provides a long-term solution to a rising problem, rather than a short-term solution that might be forgotten once kids grow older.
The problem arises with cost - not all parents have the money or the means to invest in this type of therapy. So should someone else step in (aka: the government)? Well, now that's a horse of a different color . . . isn't it?