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Study Seeks to Turn off Obesity Cues

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Aired 4/20/09

A UCSD psychologist may have found a way to help teenagers ignore environmental cues that make them overeat. And she's looking for volunteers to be part of her research. KPBS reporter Tom Fudge explains.

If seeing the Golden Arches makes you salivate, that might be good for McDonalds' business. But pediatric psychologist Kerri Boutelle says this Pavlovian reaction is one reason why so many kids today are obese. She says children typically don't eat too much because they're always hungry. They eat too much because they are overly responsive to environmental cues that make them think they're hungry.

"So it's the idea that we've lost touch with our internal regulation systems. And so we've created this program to help them learn to regulate it again," she says.

In Boutelle's study, teenagers will be exposed to the food they crave. They're then taught not to eat until the craving subsides. She's now looking for volunteers in San Diego who are 13 to sixteen years old. Tom Fudge, KPBS News.

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