Early Intervention of Eating- and Weight-Related Problems

  • Denise E. Wilfley
  • Anna Vannucci
  • Emily K. White


Obesity and other eating-related problems are widespread and are associated with harmful physical, psychological, and social problems. The dramatic increases in rates of pediatric obesity has created a mounting need for psychologists and other mental health care providers to play a significant role in the assessment and treatment of youth with eating- and weight-related problems. Therefore, it is imperative for providers to be aware of the causes and consequences of eating- and weight-related problems and to be familiar with evidence-based assessment and intervention approaches. Currently, the most well-established intervention approaches are family-based behavioral treatments, and weight loss maintenance treatments with a socio-ecological focus are promising. This paper provides a comprehensive review of these topics and highlights the important roles that mental health care providers can have. Medical settings are often the patient’s first point of contact within the healthcare system, making mental health care providers in such settings uniquely suited to assess for a broad range of eating- and weight-related problems and associated comorbidities, to deliver relevant evidence-based interventions, and to make appropriate referrals. Moving forward, providers and researchers must work together to address key questions related to the nature of eating- and weight-related problems in youth and to achieve breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of such problems in this vulnerable population.


Childhood obesity Intervention Binge eating Food reinforcement Impulsivity Satiety responsiveness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise E. Wilfley
    • 1
  • Anna Vannucci
    • 1
  • Emily K. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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