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Wanted: Western New York kids who snack while playing computer games

Photo of Len Epstein

What do children eat and why? SUNY Distinguished Professor Len Epstein of UB has a major NIH grant to explore the answers.

Release Date: June 20, 2013

“We're interested in habituation, which is when repeated exposure to the same stimulus -- in this case, a particular food -- leads to a decreased response from an individual.”
Leonard Epstein, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics
UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Photo of Len Epstein
High-Res Image

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Parents: if you have a child aged 8-12, who doesn’t mind eating snacks while playing computer games, the University at Buffalo wants to hear from you.

Researchers in UB’s Behavioral Medicine lab are recruiting children to participate in a major research grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health to nationally respected UB childhood obesity expert Leonard Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The UB CRAVES study is designed to examine how factors influence why, what and how much children eat and how these factors are related to growth.

“We’re interested in habituation, which is when repeated exposure to the same stimulus -- in this case, a particular food -- leads to a decreased response from an individual,” explains Epstein.

A better understanding of habituation will help researchers like Epstein and colleagues at UB to better understand and treat obesity in both children and adults.

“Here, we look at how motivated different individuals are to work for food,” Epstein says. “Some people habituate quickly to food while others habituate more slowly. We want to study how habituation is related to growth and the factors that influence this.”

Over the course of the two year study, participants will make a total of 10 visits lasting two hours each, to the UB Behavioral Medicine lab on the UB South Campus, Farber Hall. Participants will receive a $20 gift certificate for each completed visit and a $100 bonus after completing the study for a total of $300 in gift certificates.

The first four visits in the first year consist of an orientation visit and three laboratory visits. During the orientation visit, each parent and child will be asked to read and sign consent and assent forms.

Each of the three laboratory sessions last between 90 and 120 minutes. Children are asked not to eat or drink anything other than water for three hours prior to the laboratory sessions or eat the study foods 24 hours before.

During each laboratory session, the children are asked to play a computer game; they earn snacks while they play, based on the points they earn in the game. The children also complete questionnaires about their hunger and how much they liked specific foods at each visit. In one session, they will complete questionnaires about different foods and talk about his/her physical activity over a period of one week.

To participate in the study, please call 716-829-5788 or complete the eligibility survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UBCRAVES.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
Senior Editor, Medicine
Tel: 716-645-4605
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
Twitter: @egoldbaum