Interventions designed to improve children's self-regulation of energy intake have yielded mixed results. We tested the efficacy of a technology-enhanced intervention designed to teach children to eat in response to internal hunger and fullness cues. Thirty-two children (mean age 4.9 ± 0.8 y) completed this within-subjects, pre-post design study that took place across 10 laboratory sessions, each scheduled approximately 1 week apart. The intervention was conducted across weeks 4–7 in small groups focused on teaching children how food travels through the body and how to respond to hunger and fullness signals. Children's short-term energy compensation, a measure of intake regulation, was collected at baseline and follow-up using a preloading protocol. Twenty-five minutes prior to receiving a standardized test meal, children consumed a low-energy (3 kcal) or high-energy (150 kcal) preload beverage, presented in random order at baseline and follow-up. Knowledge of intervention concepts was also assessed at baseline and follow-up. Linear mixed models were used to examine changes in short-term energy compensation and knowledge from baseline to follow-up. Knowledge related to the intervention improved from baseline to follow-up (3.5 ± 0.3 to 7.0 ± 0.3 correct responses out of a possible 10; P < 0.001). Children's energy compensation also improved from baseline to follow-up, as evidenced by a time-by-preload condition interaction (P = 0.02). However, this improvement was driven by boys who increased the adjustment for beverage energy content from baseline to follow-up (P = 0.04). Girls showed no change in energy compensation with the intervention (P = 0.58). The overall increase in knowledge, paired with the improvement in energy compensation in boys, suggests that this technology-enhanced intervention may be efficacious for some children. Further research is needed to determine whether boys and girls will benefit from different, personalized intervention strategies for obesity prevention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nutrition and Dietetics