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Monday, November 30, 2009
Claremont Graduate University professor Kim Reynolds, PhD has received a $5.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health for a novel study on obesity intervention for teens. The study is expected to take five years to complete, at which time, Reynolds says he hopes the study will yield unique insights into strategies for behavior modification. In addition, the study will be part of a much-larger, $37 million program through the National Institutes of Health, that will use findings from basic research on human behavior to develop more effective interventions to reduce obesity.
Reynolds and his team will research patients between the ages of 14 and 17 at Molina Medical Group to determine cues relating to their diet. The goal is to establish a relationship between outside cues and their poor eating habits (high-sugar, high-fat diet).
Molina Medical Group was targeted in the study because many of its patients are low income, a population at risk for obesity in America. The project uses a variety of innovative approaches, including tailored communications using newsletters, cognitive assessments conducted with computers and fMRI scanners, and food diaries generated through Personal Digital Assistants given to study participants.
According to James Howatt, M.D., chief medical officer of Molina Healthcare Inc., the project will assess or assist approximately 850 adolescents.
“The study will bring together at risk members in the adolescent age group and specially trained therapists with experience in motivating behavior change,” Howatt said.
The intervention itself will be developed through the implementation of five interconnected studies. The first study will identify cues to habitual dietary behavior among adolescents. The second study will create an intervention activity designed to modify inhibitory function. The third study will test cue-based and implementation intention approaches for dietary change. The fourth study will test alternative approaches to the modification of inhibitory function and dietary intake among adolescents. The fifth study will fuse together elements of all the prior studies into a complete intervention with children 14-17 years of age and their families.
“The goal is to remove cues to people eating foods high in sugar and fat,” Reynolds said. “By focusing on identifying cues and habits of overeating, developing strategies to address inhibitions about diet consumption, we can then design a program to help adolescents modify their diet.”
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