Behavioral weight loss programs in their many forms can be an effective way to treat or prevent obesity, but not everyone may respond adequately to lifestyle interventions that include counting calories and increasing physical activity. reports New Atlas, citing JAMA Network Open.
Researchers in a new study, from the University of California, San Diego, have developed an alternative approach that retrains the brains of people who are highly sensitive to food cues to resist cravings, and show that it can overcome strategies for long-term weight loss.
The innovative pilot weight loss intervention is designed for people with strong internal hunger cues who find it difficult to resist food. This theory is known as the behavioral susceptibility theory and is based on the notion that genetic traits of appetite combined with the current food environment put certain people at increased risk of obesity.
Lead researcher Professor Keri Butell said: “There are people who are very responsive to food. That is, they can’t resist food and/or can’t stop thinking about food. Behavioral weight loss skills are not enough for these people, so an alternative approach has been designed to meet this clinical need.
Buttel and his colleagues used behavioral sensitivity theory as the basis for a new approach to weight loss. The team of researchers calls the innovative mechanism “signal regulation” and uses psychoeducation to teach topics about situations, thoughts, moods and environments that lead to overeating and experiential learning to develop psychological coping skills to reduce sensitivity to food cues and tolerate cravings.
The new mechanism ensures that patients monitor their hunger before and after meals or, for example, how their hunger levels change depending on their mood. The mechanism also exposed subjects to highly craving foods when they were already full as a form of cue exposure therapy, for example, using coping skills to resist cravings and monitor the effects.
The 271 overweight adults in the study underwent 26 group treatments over 12 months and were tasked with completing at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise each week. Subjects were then randomly assigned to either a ‘regulated lifestyle cues intervention’, a behavioral weight loss program with a strict diet and calorie limits, or a combination of these two, or to a control group that received nutritional education, social support and mindfulness training.
Observations after 24 months found that weight loss was comparable between the list of baseline program participants and those in behavioral weight loss. But the scientists found that the latter group regained their weight more easily at a later stage, while the downregulation participants were able to stabilize their body weight.
“Our findings suggest that the appetite mechanisms targeted by the signal list could be particularly critical for weight loss among people who have difficulty resisting food and could be used in a personalized medicine approach,” he added. .
While it is only a pilot study, the researchers say the findings suggest that the signal regulation intervention could be a practical approach to weight loss for adults who are prone to overeating. For those struggling to control their body weight through other interventions, this technique can be an effective alternative.
“People who need help losing weight may turn to a ‘cue regulation’ program if they haven’t had success with a behavioral weight loss regimen, feel like they have a hard time resisting eating, or have never felt full Bottle concluded. . .