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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013 Oct 24;10:119. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-119.

Effect of a prescriptive dietary intervention on psychological dimensions of eating behavior in obese adolescents.

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  • 1The Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia.



Overweight adolescents are more likely to have dysfunctional eating behaviours compared to normal weight adolescents. Little is known about the effects of obesity treatment on the psychological dimensions of eating behavior in this population.


To examine the effects of a prescriptive dietary intervention on external eating (eating in response to food cues, regardless of hunger and satiety), emotional eating and dietary restraint and their relation to weight loss. Parental acceptability was also examined.


This is a secondary study of a 12-month randomized trial, the RESIST study, which examined the effects of two diets on insulin sensitivity. Participants were 109 obese 10- to 17-year-olds with clinical features of insulin resistance. The program commenced with a 3-month dietary intervention using a structured meal plan, with the addition of an exercise intervention in the next 3 months and followed by a 6 month maintenance period.This paper presents changes in eating behaviors measured by the Eating Pattern Inventory for Children and parent rated diet acceptability during the first 6 months of the trial. As there was no difference between the diets on outcome of interest, both diet groups were combined for analyses.


After 6 months, the proportion of participants who reported consuming more in response to external eating cues decreased from 17% to 5% (P = 0.003), whereas non- emotional eating increased from 48% to 65% (p = 0.014). Dietary restraint and parental pressure to eat remained unchanged. A reduction in external eating (rho = 0.36, P < 0.001) and a reduction in dietary restraint (r = 0.26, P = 0.013) were associated with greater weight loss at 3 and 6 months, respectively. Overall this approach was well accepted by parents with 72% of parents considered that their child would be able to follow the meal plan for the longer term.


In the short to medium term, a prescriptive dietary intervention approach is a well-accepted and suitable option for obese adolescents with clinical features of insulin resistance. It may reduce external and emotional eating, led to modest weight loss and did not cause any adverse effect on dietary restraint.


Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registration Number (ACTRN) 12608000416392

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