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Controlling Response to Food Cues May Maintain Weight

Controlling Response to Food Cues May Maintain Weight

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A new weight loss intervention focuses on people’s response to food cues. smodj/Getty Images
  • Researchers studied the effects of a new weight loss intervention that helps regulate response to food cues.
  • The intervention resulted in similar weight loss to existing treatment as well as less weight regain after treatment.
  • The researchers say the new intervention could be used as an alternative weight loss treatment.

Approximately 74% of American adults live overweight or obese. Current treatments for weight loss include behavioral weight loss (BWL) programs or lifestyle intervention programs.

Although these interventions produce moderate weight loss results, people regain weight after their end. Maintaining weight loss is a major challenge for weight loss interventions.

The data behind the Behavioral Susceptibility Theory (BST) suggests that food and satiety responses are highly heritable and are shaped by environmental and individual factors, including Pavlovian and operant learning, memory, and diet-related neural changes.

A new intervention based on improving the management of food and satiety responses may help people maintain their weight loss.

In a recent study, researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial for a newly developed weight loss intervention called “Regulation of Cues” (ROC) that targets food response and satiety.

They found that ROC-based interventions can help people with high food responsiveness maintain weight loss.

“ROC forms internal cues to manage overeating rather than external management strategies, such as self-monitoring food intake,” study co-author Dr. Kerri Boutelleprofessor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, said Medical News Today.

The study was published in the journal Nutrition, obesity and exercise.

For the study, the researchers recruited 271 adults with an average age of 47 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 34.6. A BMI of 25 to 30 is generally considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity.

Participants were divided into four groups: ROC, BWL, ROC combined with BWL (ROC+) and an active comparator group (AC).

The ROC consisted of four components: psychoeducation to increase awareness of the situations, thoughts, patterns, and environments that lead to overeating; experiential learning, coping skills and self-monitoring.

For example, participants learned to monitor hunger, cravings and satiety before being “exposed” to highly sought-after foods to practice their new knowledge and skills.

Participants in the BWL group were given individualized calorie goals and received behavior change recommendations, including:

  • Self-monitoring
  • Meal planning
  • Cognitive restructuring of relapse prevention skills

At the same time, the AC group received training in:

  • food intake
  • Stress as a risk factor for weight gain
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Time management

Each program was delivered through 26 group treatments of 90 minutes over a period of 12 months. All participants were also asked to get at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week and to take at least 10,000 steps per day.

The researchers followed the participants for 2 years, including the treatment period and the following year.

At the post-treatment assessment, people in the ROC, ROC+, and BWL groups experienced greater reductions in BMI than those in the AC group.

This was remarkable, the researchers wrote, because ROC did not involve calorie restriction.

The ROC+ group experienced the greatest reduction in body fat after treatment, followed by BWL, ROC, and then AC.

The researchers further noted that while the ROC+, BWL, and AC groups regained weight at mid-treatment, the weight of those in the ROC group stabilized from that point.

The researchers also noted that participants who scored higher on food responsiveness lost more weight in the ROC and ROC+ groups than in the BWL group.

This, they wrote, means that ROC-based treatments can be particularly effective for those who have trouble resisting food.

To explain the results, the researchers noted that ROC and BWL are significantly different approaches to weight loss. While ROC promotes the regulation of internal response to food cues, BWL regulates external factors such as food intake.

When asked what food cues are, Dr. Boutelle said they include sensory stimuli such as billboards and the sound of the ice cream parlor bell, as well as associative memories related to food experiences, such as “visiting grandma’s house”.

The researchers wrote that ROC’s emphasis on learning tolerance to food cues might require less cognitive effort over time than avoiding them, as in BWL, which may explain the loss effects. of sustained ROC weights.

The researchers concluded that ROC and ROC+ can be used as alternative interventions for overweight and obese people who have high levels of food responsiveness.

The study has certain limitations. Dr. Jena Shaw Tronieri, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, not involved in the study, said DTM:

“These results were produced by intensive intervention (frequent visits) delivered by highly trained providers to patients motivated to lose weight.”

“As with any intensive behavioral weight loss treatment, it can be difficult to find providers with the resources, time and training to perform intensive interventions in real settings. This can be especially difficult for new treatment methods that use psychological strategies. »

“We would need a follow-up study to confirm the preliminary finding that people with high food responsiveness may benefit more from ROC, or to test whether this feature could be used to match participants with which treatment will be most effective. for them,” she explained.

“I would also be very interested to see a follow-up report on how the groups compared on additional primary outcomes such as percent weight loss and binge eating at each time point,” Dr. Tronieri.