Study: Diet that manages hunger ‘signals’ helps people lose and maintain lower weight

A diet that manages people’s responses to hunger cues helps them lose weight and keep it off, according to a new study. Photo by pxhere/Pixabay

May 18 (UPI) – A weight-loss program designed to alter people’s internal response to feelings of hunger is helping overweight adults lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, according to research published Wednesday.

Participants in the so-called signal regulation approach, which is designed to train people to manage their response to natural cues of when to eat rather than focusing on calories, lost an average of 5 pounds, according to published data. Wednesday by JAMA Network Open.

Those following a more conventional diet designed to encourage healthy eating behaviors lost about 9.5 pounds. but were three times more likely to engage in “loss of eating control” or stop adhering to the plan over time, the researchers said.

“Our results suggest that the appetitive mechanisms targeted by signal regulation may be particularly critical for weight loss in people who have difficulty resisting food,” said study author Kerri N. Boutelle. in a press release.

‚ÄúPeople who need help losing weight can consult the Signal Regulation Program if behavioral weight loss has not worked for them, if they feel they have trouble resisting eating, or if they never feel full,” said Boutelle, a professor of public health at the University of California-San Diego.

About three-quarters of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Boutelle and colleagues, behavioral weight loss programs, such as calorie counting, have been the leading approach to weight loss used nationwide.

However, not everyone responds to these approaches and many regain the lost weight, research indicates.

Signal regulation processing is designed to build tolerance for food cravings or inhibit cravings for palatable foods when not physically hungry, Boutelle and colleagues said.

Palatable foods are those that contain high amounts of sugar or fat with added salt and other flavorings designed to stimulate the reward system in the brain and can be particularly difficult to resist, the researchers said.

For those who have trouble resisting food, weight loss can be especially difficult due to hereditary, environmental and individual factors, they said.

For this study, 271 adults aged 18 to 65 underwent 26 group treatments over a 12-month period, during which they were asked to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. .

Some of the participants were treated with a behavioral weight loss program with a prescribed, calorie-restricted diet, while others also received training in signal regulation, the researchers said.

Weight loss was comparable in both groups after 24 months. However, participants who received signal regulation training stabilized and maintained their weight, while participants in other groups regained weight, the data showed.

Signal regulation is proposed in another randomized clinical trial called Solutions for Hunger and Diet Regulation and at the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research, the researchers said.

“Some people are very sensitive to food cues, meaning they can’t resist food and/or can’t stop thinking about food,” Boulette said.

“Behavioral weight loss skills are not sufficient for these individuals, so we designed an alternative approach to address this clinical need,” she said.

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