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Wanted: Kids who snack, play computer games

During each lab session, children taking part in the UB CRAVES study will play a computer game, earning snacks while they play based on the points they earn in the game.

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published June 19, 2014

“We want to study how habituation is related to growth and the factors that influence this.”
Leonard Epstein, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Parents with children ages 8-12 who don’t mind eating snacks while playing computer games: UB wants to hear from you.

Researchers in UB’s Behavioral Medicine lab are recruiting children to participate in a major research study funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to nationally respected childhood obesity expert Leonard Epstein, 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 be asked to make a total of 10 visits of two hours each to the UB Behavioral Medicine lab in Farber Hall on the South Campus. They 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 will 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 will last between 90 and 120 minutes. Children will be 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 the sessions.

During each laboratory session, the children will play a computer game; they will earn snacks while they play, based on the points they earn in the game. The children also will 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 their physical activity over a period of one week.
Families interested in participating in the study, should call 716-829-5788 or complete the eligibility survey.