Preventing excessive weight gain in adolescents: interpersonal psychotherapy for binge eating

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jun;15(6):1345-55. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.162.


The most prevalent disordered eating pattern described in overweight youth is loss of control (LOC) eating, during which individuals experience an inability to control the type or amount of food they consume. LOC eating is associated cross-sectionally with greater adiposity in children and adolescents and seems to predispose youth to gain weight or body fat above that expected during normal growth, thus likely contributing to obesity in susceptible individuals. No prior studies have examined whether LOC eating can be decreased by interventions in children or adolescents without full-syndrome eating disorders or whether programs reducing LOC eating prevent inappropriate weight gain attributable to LOC eating. Interpersonal psychotherapy, a form of therapy that was designed to treat depression and has been adapted for the treatment of eating disorders, has shown efficacy in reducing binge eating episodes and inducing weight stabilization among adults diagnosed with binge eating disorder. In this paper, we propose a theoretical model of excessive weight gain in adolescents at high risk for adult obesity who engage in LOC eating and associated overeating patterns. A rationale is provided for interpersonal psychotherapy as an intervention to slow the trajectory of weight gain in at-risk youth, with the aim of preventing or ameliorating obesity in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bulimia Nervosa / complications*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / complications*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Weight Gain*