New Ways to Manage Overeating in Children

It is well known that overeating or habit of consumption of excessive food even without feeling of hunger, results in weight gain and subsequent obesity. Now-a-day obesity is main concern in both children and parents as it is a risk factor for development of fatal diseases like diabetes and heart maladies. Now, new ways developed by experts and tested with children becomes mainstay in management of overeating.

Researchers from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine conducted a pilot study to invent two new methods for decreasing overeating and binge eating in children. Study was central on theme of not only improving children reaction to their body’s internal hunger and satiety cues but also limiting their physiological and psychological reactions to foods in the environment.

Fat for Life Newsweek Cover

Management of overeating with existing standard behavioral therapies such as limiting the amount of food intake, tracking whatever food eaten or engaging in intensive activities to distract attention from food proves fail on long term basis.

In the current study, researchers studied 36 obese children between 8-to-12 years old with habit of overeating. Both children and their parents were divided into two groups for 8 week long training period. Participants were trained with several schemes which help them to monitor and handle with food cravings until they ceased, to use when not physically hungry.

Participants were also educated about how to respond to bodies’ signals, for the availability of foods or even their own moods and tackle the environmental factors responsible for overeating. Researchers also evaluated the affect of two different overeating approaches on body weight, overeating, binge eating and caloric intake in both the children and parents.

Researchers developed following two approaches to manage overeating in study participants:

Appetite Awareness Approach

In this approach, participants have to identify body’s internal clues of hunger and satiety and regulate eating behaviour throughout the meal.

Cue Exposure Approach

Here participant resist the food that is kept before them. They have to stare, hold and smell the food item, and take only small bites for up to 20 minutes. After rating for their cravings they have to throw away the food. This approach might be very helpful in reduction of eating in the absence of hunger for long-run, according to experts.

In post-treatment surveys, most children from both groups had enjoyed the program with convincing effect on reducing incidents of overeating. Almost 81% and 69 % participants respectively from both groups described sensing more in control of their eating patterns due to the program. There was only a small effect on body weight and no effect on reported calories eaten in either group.

Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics said:

“These findings are exciting because they offer a completely new paradigm for controlling overeating and binge eating”. She also added that,” 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.”

Additional research on large scale is planned for the summer of 2012 to confirm additional effectiveness of presently invented ways and to find more ways for managing overeating.




Dr. Minakshi Welukar

I am Pune based medical doctor (M.B.B.S) and certified medical writer from InfocusRx, Hyderabad, working as a family physician and freelance medical writer for health magazines and websites. Five years of clinical experience faced me to handle variety of patients to get best possible results, keep up-to-date knowledge about new medicinal advances and build-up medical specialist and social contacts.

One thought on “New Ways to Manage Overeating in Children

  • December 29, 2011 at 1:12 am

    One of the greatest concerns for parents of an overeating child or teen is the irrational fear that taking control of the child’s or teen’s food will lead to bulimia later in life. Even though parents realize that there is only a 4% or 5% chance of their child becoming bulimic and if they are already overweight, the risk of becoming an overweight adult is 70% to 80%, that is not enough to reassure many parents.


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