Two novel treatments to reduce overeating in overweight children: a randomized controlled trial

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2011 Dec;79(6):759-71. doi: 10.1037/a0025713.


Objective: Our purpose in this study was to examine 2 treatments targeted at reducing eating in the absence of hunger in overweight and obese children.

Method: Thirty-six overweight and obese 8- to 12-year-old children (58% female; mean age = 10.3 years, SD = 1.3), with high scores on eating in the absence of hunger, and their parents were randomly assigned to an 8-week children's appetite awareness training or cue exposure treatment-food. Children completed an eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) paradigm, an Eating Disorder Examination interview for children, and three 24-hr dietary recalls, and their height and weight were measured. Parents completed the EAH Questionnaire and the Binge Eating Scale, and their height and weight were measured. Assessments were conducted at baseline, posttreatment, and 6 and 12 months posttreatment.

Results: Results showed that both treatments resulted in significant decreases in binge eating in children over time. Additionally, children in the food cue exposure treatment showed significant decreases in EAH posttreatment and 6 months posttreatment, but children in the appetite awareness training showed no change in EAH. Neither treatment produced significant effects on caloric intake in children or on any of the parent outcomes.

Conclusions: 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. Because these data are preliminary, further treatment development and randomized controlled studies are needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Bulimia / complications
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / complications
  • Hyperphagia / psychology
  • Hyperphagia / therapy*
  • Male
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome