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New Tools Aid Treatment of Binge Eating and Obesity

New Tools Aid Treatment of Binge Eating and ObesityCambridge researchers have developed a technological method to objectively measure a person’s desire to eat.

The ability to quantifiably record, rather than subjectively assess, an individual’s perception of hunger improves assessment of a variety of behavioral strategies.

To help other scientists understand the approach, the researchers have published the first peer-reviewed video of their technique in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

In the video, the authors demonstrate their means of objectively studying the drivers and mechanisms of over-consumption in humans.

To do this, they assess their subject’s willingness to work or pay for food, and they simultaneously track the corresponding brain activity using an MRI scanner.

“We present alternative ways of exploring attitudes to food by using indirect, objective measures such as measuring the amount of energy exerted to obtain or view different foods, as well as determining brain responses during the anticipation and consumption of desirable foods,” said the lab’s principal investigator, Paul Fletcher, Ph.D.

He and his colleagues use participant hand-grip intensity (referred to as “grip force” in the video) to calculate the motivation for a given food reward.

According to Fletcher, typical approaches for evaluating anti-obesity type drugs rely on more subjective methods — like having test subjects self-report their ratings of hunger and cravings.

“When a person is asked how much they subjectively desire a food, they may feel pressured to give a ‘correct’ rather than a true answer,” said Fletcher, “[Our] grip force task may, under certain circumstances, present a more accurate reflection of what they really want.”

They decided to publish a video capturing the protocol “Because it offered the opportunity to demonstrate the methods more fully,” he said.

In the video, Dr. Fletcher expands on the purpose of publishing the method with JoVE.

“Individuals new to the technique may struggle because there aren’t many examples of grip-force tasks published in the literature, and there are no full and clear descriptions of how to design and set up the tasks,” he said.

With rising concerns surrounding obesity, researchers can use the technique presented in the JoVE video to determine the efficacy of a potential emerging market in anti-obesity medicine.

Source: The Journal of Visualized Experiments

Photo credit: JoVE

New Tools Aid Treatment of Binge Eating and Obesity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). New Tools Aid Treatment of Binge Eating and Obesity. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/20/new-tools-aid-treatment-of-binge-eating-and-obesity/67369.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.