UC San Diego Health Sciences is set to launch a one-year clinical trial, called Regulation of Food Cues, which aims to reduce binge eating and help obese to lose weight. The trial will help the participants to identify real hunger and to practice resistance if the stomach is full.
"Most weight-loss treatments for obese adults focus very
little on the reduction of binge eating," said Kerri Boutelle, PhD, principal
investigator and associate professor in the department of psychiatry at UC San
Diego School of Medicine. "With this study we use a variety of techniques to
train the brain to identify and respond to hunger and cravings and to learn
resistance to highly craved foods."
The one-year study will recruit 30 participants who will
undergo weekly 60-90 minute sessions held over 12 weeks. Participants will
learn how food cravings originate, how to detect and monitor true hunger, how
emotional factors influence eating habits, and how to manage cravings and impulses
"Binge eaters often consume food in response to their
environment, even when they are not hungry. This could be a response to
watching TV, long commutes, sitting on the couch, time of day, even
loneliness," said Boutelle, who is also a licensed clinical psychologist. "The
goal is to reduce cravings to overeat by up to 50 percent."
Teaching obese people to recognize hunger signals is based
upon the principles of behavioral psychology, which has proven effective in
treating conditions such as anxiety and bulimia. Boutelle and her team have
developed a treatment model that shows that binge eating often results from
response to environmental food cues. Exposure-based treatments help eaters
improve their sensitivity to hunger and fullness and reduce their sensitivity
to the sight and smell of food.
Similar programs aimed at overweight youths have yielded
promising results and an ability to maintain reductions in binge eating at six
and 12 months after treatment.
Participants who join the study will be asked to
complete interviews and surveys before and after treatment groups. In addition,
they will complete food logs in which they will be asked to monitor levels of
hunger and fullness as well as cravings.