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UB researchers recruiting for weight-loss studies

The Traffic Light Diet — based on a system where foods are divided into red, yellow and green according to calories, energy and nutrient density — is one of the few plans shown to produce long-term success in obese children.

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published March 2, 2016

Two new UB studies are recruiting families and individuals interested in losing weight or preventing diabetes.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the studies are being led by Leonard Epstein, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and director of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics.

Healthy eating plan

“This funding makes it possible for us to offer our highly successful Traffic Light Eating Plan to families for free,” says Epstein, who invented the Traffic Light Diet to give families an easy way to learn how to eat healthier.

The diet has demonstrated successful treatment effects for as long as 10 years, resulting in normal weight in formerly obese 8- to 12-year-old children. With more than 30 years and more than $20 million of NIH-funded research, Epstein’s is one of the most successful labs for treating obesity in families in the United States.

The new InstaThought Study is looking at positive thinking training and how it affects the choices parents and children make about what to eat. Only 80 families consisting of one parent and one child will be recruited for this study. Parents must be overweight and have a 10- to 12 year-old child who exceeds the 85th percentile for body mass index (BMI).

Participants will be trained to use the Traffic Light Eating Plan during the study. Since the study requires using the Internet, family members must have a computer, smartphone or Wi-Fi device.

“Recent research in both our laboratory and clinical studies has suggested that people can use positive thinking techniques to make better dietary choices,” says Colleen Kilanowski, project coordinator for the Division of Behavioral Medicine. “The purpose of this study is to see how training people to use positive thinking can affect their choices about what, and how much, to eat.”

The study offers the opportunity for parent and child to make 14 visits to the Division of Behavioral Medicine Lab on the South Campus over four months. Ten of the visits are weekly appointments that include free counseling and education on practicing healthy behaviors. Participants also will be asked to complete several dietary assessments over the phone with a staff member.

Families interested in developing healthy eating habits and participating in the InstaThought Study should call 716-829-6122 or complete the eligibility survey here.

Preventing the transition to type 2 diabetes

The second study, called the Multisite Intervention and Neuroimaging Delay Discounting (MINDD) study, explores behavioral techniques that can help people at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Collaboratively, Epstein and Warren K. Bickel at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Addiction Recovery Research Center, are conducting the study to identify and understand behavioral processes related to a variety of health choices and behaviors. The overarching goal of their research is to translate their findings into clinical interventions to prevent the transition from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

Approximately 60 individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes are being recruited for this study. The study involves four sessions, which include two visits to the Behavioral Medicine Lab at UB, one visit to a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging facility and a follow-up visit. Participation in this study can help clinicians and scientists better understand the relationship between health behaviors and preventing type 2 diabetes.

Individuals interested in participating in the MINDD study should call 716-829-2245 or email UBMINDD@gmail.com or complete the eligibility survey here.

The weight loss study is being done in collaboration with Teresa Quattrin, UB Distinguished Professor and chair of pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and pediatrician-in-chief at Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, and Denise Wilfley, professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.

The prediabetes research team includes Quattrin and Lucy Mastrandrea, associate professor of pediatrics; Robert Zivadinov, professor of neurology; and Ferdinand Schweser, assistant professor of neurology, all at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Warren Bickel, professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Institute.