Scientists from the University of California San Diego found a new weight-loss intervention that can target improving a person’s response to internal hunger cues and their ability to resist food.
The new method can help people who are highly responsive to food to lose more weight and keep their pounds off.
The research is published in JAMA Network Open and was conducted by Kerri N. Boutelle et al.
Approximately 74% of adults in the United States are living with overweight or obese.
Behavioral weight loss programs, that include calorie counting, have been the go-to treatment. However not everyone responds, and most people regain the lost weight.
For those who find it difficult to resist food, weight loss can be particularly challenging. This food responsiveness is both hereditary and shaped by the environment and individual factors.
In the study, the team compared their intervention, called Regulation of Cues, against a behavioral weight loss program, a control group, and a cohort that combined Regulation of Cues with the behavioral program.
The Regulation of Cues intervention did not prescribe participants a diet.
Instead, it trained the use of natural cues of when to eat rather than focusing on calories, it reinforced tolerance of cravings and focused on inhibiting urges to eat palatable foods when not physically hungry.
Palatable foods—usually food that contain high amounts of sugar or fat with the addition of salt and flavorings—stimulate the reward system in the brain and can be particularly challenging to resist.
The team found weight loss was comparable after 24 months among people in both the Regulation of Cues and the behavioral weight loss program.
But participants in the Regulation of Cues arm stabilized their weight and kept it off while participants in the other groups regained weight at mid-treatment when clinic visits were reduced to monthly.
These findings suggest that the appetitive mechanisms targeted by Regulation of Cues may be especially critical for weight loss among individuals who have trouble resisting food and could be used in a personalized medicine approach.
Overweight and obesity are risk factors for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, all of which are among the leading causes of preventable death.
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