Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Paper Session #84
Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Improving Eating Habits and Increasing Exercise and Time Spent Outdoors
Saturday, May 27, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 4
Area: CBM
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Jonathan R. Miller (University of Colorado Denver; Children's Hospital Colorado)
Why Weight? A Call for Behavior Analysts to Address Obesity
Domain: Theory
JONATHAN R. MILLER (University of Colorado Denver / Children's Hospital Colorado), Richard Boles (University of Colorado School of Medicine; Children's Hospital Colorado)
Abstract: Obesity is a serious health condition that continues to be a growing problem in the United States and around the world. It is typically the product of numerous behavioral patterns that converge to result in a consistently greater amount of calories being consumed than expended. At this time, obesity is not well managed through medical intervention alone and it is widely recognized that behavior change through environmental manipulation is critical for successful treatment. Common behavioral strategies such as self-monitoring and establishing stimulus control for behavior (specifically, regarding food intake) are foundational components of effective obesity intervention. Clearly, the science of behavior has much to offer. However, behavior analysts have been minimally involved in addressing the “obesity epidemic” to date. With no accepted standard treatment and increasing prevalence of obesity, the door is open for behavior analysts to make substantial contributions to this area. As such, this presentation seeks to present a case for why behavior analysts should be doing more to address obesity and how this might be accomplished.

Expanding Functional Assessment of Obesity-Causing Eating Behavior: The Operant Cluster

Domain: Theory
MICHAEL REYNOLDS (Columbia Basin College), Richard Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University)

Obesity is a common medical condition associated with negative health and social outcomes. Obesity has a primary malleable behavioral cause, eating more calories than are metabolized. While metabolic rate is malleable with exercise, eating can more quickly add calories than exercising can subtract them. In the past, behavioral weight-loss treatment studies have shown reliable patterns of participant weight-loss during treatment and weight-regain in follow-up. Those findings could be conceptualized as an ABA withdrawal design, eating behavior returns to baseline after the prosthetic contingencies of the treatment study are withdrawn. The goal of behavioral treatments is to enable clients to be their own treatment providers, so we must develop ways to measure the behaviors that enable control of eating behavior. This presentation describes a hypothetical seven-term functional unit, the operant cluster. Based on the four-term operant conceptualization of eating behavior; the operant cluster is a novel expansion that includes behaviors functionally related to the antecedents, consequences, and motivating operations of eating behavior. This presentation will discuss the potential uses of an operant cluster functional assessment model in terms of treatment utility, long-term maintenance of obesity treatment effects, methodological challenges highlighted by a pilot study, and applications to smoking cessation and other behavior medicine issues.


Functional Assessment and Treatment of Exercise Cessation in an Adolescent With Obesity

Domain: Applied Research
KELLI MINTON (East Carolina University), Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)

Traditional physical activity promotion strategies including educational and persuasion-based interventions are largely ineffective or yield mixed results, further contributing to the increase in obese individuals and sedentary lifestyles. Functional Behavioral Assessment can be applied in activity promotion to behaviors of new exercisers including avoidance behaviors (e.g. excessive socializing prior to or during transitions of exercise) and escape behaviors (e.g. taking unauthorized or prolonged breaks). In this study, FBA was used in a novel application to determine the function of exercise cessation in an adolescent male who was obese and sedentary. It was found that the functions of exercise cessation were: direct escape from aversive sensory stimulation as well as direct escape from a relatively difficult task. The use of FBA allowed for an individual program to target a specific behavior frequently displayed in individuals beginning an exercise program (i.e. escape and avoiding behaviors) and decrease the frequency of the target behavior. This study provides promise for the application of FBA to assist this unique population in overcoming obstacles to lifestyle change.

The Benefits of Being Outdoors for Seniors Living in Long-Term Care Settings
Domain: Theory
PARSLA VINTERE (CHE Senior Psychological Services)
Abstract: Recently, there has been an increase in the studies examining the relationship between time spent outdoors and seniors’ health status. They show a positive relationship. In terms of physical health, there is evidence that being outdoors is associated with an increase in Vitamin D levels, improved functioning of the immune system, better recovery from injury and illness and increased energy levels. Similarly, there is evidence of mental health benefits associated with time spent outdoors, such as decreased levels of stress, depression and anxiety and improved attention and well-being. Several studies suggest that health care providers need to pay more attention to how often their senior clients are outdoors. Despite of these findings, many long-term care residents spend most, if not all, of their time indoors. The purpose of this paper is to (a) examine the typical scheduling of the daily activities in the long-term care settings; (b) discuss the barriers for implementing changes; and (c) present some anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the time spent outdoors using clinical behavior analytic approach to psychotherapy with aging population. The need for empirical research will be discussed.



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