About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

New Methods may Help ‘rehab’ Fried-food-loving Couch Dwellers

by VR Sreeraman on September 6, 2007 at 8:05 PM
Font : A-A+

New Methods may Help ‘rehab’ Fried-food-loving Couch Dwellers

Deep-fried crunchy chicken tenders, fried ground beef hamburger, a bag of Oreos or potato chips. All these savories sound scrumptious, but in reality, they can prove lethal for health. Now, a new research study has come up with innovative ways in a bid to rehab fried-food-loving couch dwellers.

Researchers at the Northwestern University are investigating new methods to rehabilitate people with lousy health habits.


The study was designed by Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, to make change as easy as possible.

Spring knows it's difficult for someone with a raft of unhealthy habits to transform an entire lifestyle. So she wants people to just change two unhealthy behaviors to see if the others will tag along. Her method is based on the Behavioral Economics Theory used by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

She's also helping fat-food-loving couch dwellers flip their lifestyles with an arsenal of high-tech tools including a specially programmed Palm Pilot to monitor eating and exercise; virtual visits with a personal coach and an accelerometer which straps around the waist to record the intensity of their movements.

Participants are assigned to eat more veggies and fruits or cut down on saturated fat; and cut back on "screen" time or increase exercise.

"We're trying to figure out which two behavior changes give you the maximum healthy bang for your buck on all unhealthy behaviors that we're trying to modify," Spring said.

"The new behaviors come along for the ride in one of two ways -- a complementary behavior or a substitute behavior. If watching TV means you also snack when you watch, then eating and snacking are complementary behaviors for you. If I can get you to cut down on your TV, you'll probably automatically cut down on your snacking. I make your life simpler by just asking you to change one. The complementary behavior is a bonus that comes along for the ride," she added.

For the study, Spring recruited a participant, Joy Hesemann and assigned her the methods for four-months. Her basic aim was to slash most saturated fat from her diet and break a sweat for an hour a day. She also got a crash course on healthier eating and strategies to inject more physical activity into her day such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

She recorded every bite of food and minute of exercise in the ever-present Palm Pilot, which had software to monitor her daily progress. With each entry, an image of a thermometer with a rising "temperature" showed her intake of saturated fat so far that day (she was allowed 20 grams) and her minutes of exercise.

As with all participants, Hesemann's recordings in the Palm Pilot and contact with the personal coach gradually tapered off over the four-month period of the study. This latter period is when it gets interesting for Spring. She's waiting to see who falls off the wagon.

"It's really hard to maintain a new healthier lifestyle. At first it's novel and exciting and then the novelty wears off. You tend to revert back to the old habits. There's kind of an inertia that pulls you back," Spring said.

Spring is anxious to see which two behavior changes best helped people maintain their healthier habits. But she won't know the results until the study ends in 2008.

Source: ANI

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Top 7 Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene
Healthy and Safer Thanksgiving 2021
Long-Term Glycemic Control - A Better Measure of COVID-19 Severity
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Recommended Reading
Low Cholesterol Diet - Carbohydrates
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives explains in brief about Carbohydrates - A Good Competitor in ...
Cartoon Stars on Fast Food Ads Put Kids Health Under Risk
With fast food giants using cartoon heroes to grab kids' attention towards their products, worried ....
Colouring Compounds in Fruits and Veggies Helps to Fight Colon Cancer
Compounds that give colour to fruits and vegetables might fight against colon cancer, a new study .....

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use