Psychologists At The Forefront Of Weight Management
Over the last few decades, the dramatic rise in pediatric obesity rates has emerged as a public health threat requiring urgent attention. The responsibility of identifying and treating eating and weight-related problems early in children and adolescents falls to health care providers and other professionals who work with the child, according to Professor Denise Wilfley from the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine
Wilfley's review of the causes, consequences, and early intervention of eating and weight-related problems highlights the important roles of psychologists in this effort.
The review examines the scope of the obesity problem, highlighting the dramatic increases in childhood obesity. The authors focus on the causes of eating- and weight-related problems in children and adolescents, attending to the complex interactions between environmental and biological factors, and dysregulated eating behaviors known as appetitive traits. In particular, the authors discuss binge eating and loss-of-control eating; satiety responsiveness or eating in the absence of hunger; motivation to eat; and impulsivity. For each trait, the authors identify screening approaches, as well as targeted intervention strategies that can be implemented by providers.
The authors find that, by far, the most effective strategies to combat childhood obesity are lifestyle behavioral interventions, and those involving the whole family in particular. These interventions promote small, successive changes in children's dietary and physical activity behaviors through the use of behavior change strategies and familial support.