Choice is relative: Reinforcing value of food and activity in obesity treatment.

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Summary of "Choice is relative: Reinforcing value of food and activity in obesity treatment."

Persons with obesity find high-energy-dense food and sedentary behaviors highly reinforcing. Diets and exercise programs deprive individuals of many favorite foods and activities, which can counterproductively heighten their value and lead to relapse. Since the value of reinforcers depend on the alternatives available, one approach to reducing food and sedentary activity reinforcement is to build healthy alternative reinforcers. Current behavioral treatment programs for children and adults do not attempt to build alternative reinforcers as substitutes for unhealthy behaviors to reduce the impact of food or activity deprivation on the motivation to eat or be inactive. A goal of the next generation of obesity treatment programs should focus on development of healthy behaviors as reinforcers so that people will be motivated to engage in them. This article provides an overview of relationships among reinforcers, how understanding substitutes and complements can influence eating and activity, and how enriching a person's environment and providing choice architecture can enhance weight control. Ideas for translation of these basic behavioral economic principles to obesity treatment programs are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: The American psychologist
ISSN: 1935-990X
Pages: 139-151


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