To assess additive effects of incorporating appetite awareness training (AAT), a strategy to encourage eating in response to hunger and satiety cues, within a family-based behavioral treatment (FBT) for childhood obesity.
Total 84 families with a child with obesity in the age range of 8–12 years, Body Mass Index Standard Deviation Score (BMI-SDS) ≥ 2, and a participating parent were randomly allocated to two conditions; standard FBT was compared with FBT incorporating AAT strategies (FBT-AAT). Treatment consisted of group therapy sessions (held separately for children and parents) as well as single-family (parent–child dyad) sessions (24 sessions total) delivered over 18 weeks at a tertiary care outpatient clinic. One booster session was provided 1-year posttreatment and a final follow-up assessment was conducted at 2 years. The primary outcome was change in child standardized body mass index (BMI-SDS).
The two conditions did not differ significantly at posttest, but the FBT-AAT group was at a significantly lower weight compared with FBT at both the first-year, F(1, 82) = 4.150, p <.05, and the second-year follow-ups, F(1, 82) = 14.912, p <.001. It was notable that over the second-year of follow-up, the FBT-AAT group continued to show improvement, whereas the FBT group did not.
Incorporating specific self-regulatory training in attending to hunger and fullness signals during a standardized family-based treatment may have enhanced the long-term maintenance of treatment effects. Findings are promising and warrant further study.