Psychotherapy May Help Prevent Teenage Weight Gain

Study finds interpersonal therapy prevents body mass index gains, reduces loss-of-control eating

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) may help adolescent girls who are at risk for obesity to avoid excess weight gain, according to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues conducted a pilot study of 38 girls aged 12 to 17 years who had a body mass index (BMI) in the 75th to 97th percentile, and of whom 20 also had loss-of-control (LOC) eating habits. The participants either had standard health education or 12 sessions of IPT over 12 weeks. All the girls were followed up for six months, and 35 were followed up after one year.

The researchers found that the girls at risk for excessive weight gain in the IPT group (IPT-WG) who had LOC eating at baseline had fewer episodes than their counterparts in the health education group; and, for all the girls, those in the IPT group were less likely to report an increase in BMI than those in the health education group.

"In this pilot study for the prevention of excess weight gain in adolescent girls, we found both IPT and a standard-of-care health education program to be feasible and acceptable to participants," the authors write. "In a pre-specified secondary analysis, we found very preliminary support that IPT-WG may reduce LOC eating and prevent excess BMI gain."

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