Michael B. Roberts
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
The present case study examined the effect of behavioral interventions on an adult male’s sedentary lifestyle and fast food consumption. A functional assessment was conducted to identify the maintaining conditions of the target behaviors and to identify the goals of treatment, such as reduce fast food intake, increase cycling, improve mood, and possible weight loss. The interventions selected were self-monitoring, stimulus control, response cost, and self-reinforcement. The participant recorded calories of fast food consumed, distance and time cycled, weight, and mood ratings. Comparing baseline data to intervention, results suggested a reduction in fast food intake, increased cycling, and weight reduction. Few results were found regarding changes in mood. It was concluded that the current intervention was effective in improving diet and increasing physical activity.
Keywords: behavioral therapy, weight control, sedentary lifestyle, fast food
Using Behavioral Interventions to Decrease Fast Food Consumption and Increase Exercise Obesity continues to be a significant problem in the United States. A contributing factor to obesity in America is the prevalence of inexpensive, fatty foods that people can obtain from fast food restaurants. Certain fast food chains have made it more convenient and less expensive to eat food high in fat than healthy food from a grocery store, making weight control significantly more difficult. In 1970, Americans spent approximately six billion dollars on fast food and in 2001 this amount increased to approximately 110 billion. Presently, Americans spend more money on fast food than they do on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music combined (Schlosser, 2001). Fast food consumption can be a hindrance on weight control and it is something that can be prevented using behavioral therapy methods. The following is a case study concerning an individual’s fast food consumption and the behavior’s impact on his sedentary lifestyle and mood problems. Although fast food consumption has not been found to be a direct cause of obesity or being overweight, it has been found to be a mediator of weight gain (Pereira, 2005). Pereira and colleagues (2005) examined fast food frequency and weight gain in a sample of black and white Americans. After adjusting for lifestyle factors, the researchers discovered that baseline fast food frequency was directly associated with changes in bodyweight in both black and white individuals. A positive association was found, meaning that as fast food frequency increased, body weight increased. Pereira and colleagues found that change in fast food frequency was directly related to changes in body weight. If an individual decreased his or her fast food intake, they did not gain as much weight as those individuals who increased or kept a consistent fast food frequency across the time span. Those participants who had frequently ate fast food (frequency of two times per week) gained on average 11 pounds more than those who ate fast food less frequently (Pereira, 2005). Also, those who ate fast food frequently had a two times greater level of insulin resistance. The researcher concluded that fast food consumption has strong positive associations with weight gain and insulin resistance. This conclusion suggests that fast food increases the risk of obesity and type two diabetes (Pereira, 2005). Research suggests that fast food is associated with weight gain, but recently researchers have turned to the mechanisms by which fast food increases the risk of obesity. In a majority of people who eat fast food, their diets have a tendency to also be low in milk and fruits as well as high in