Skip to main content
A portrait of small girl sitting at the table at home, eating muffins.
A portrait of happy small girl sitting at the table at home, eating muffins.

Researchers with UT’s Department of Nutrition and Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies have received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a limited dietary prescription that uses habituation to improve long-term weight loss for patients with childhood obesity.

The research team is led by Hollie Raynor, professor of nutrition, and includes Scott Crouter, associate professor of exercise physiology, along with Leonard Epstein of the University at Buffalo, J. Graham Thomas of the Mariam Hospital, and Kristoffer Berlin of the University of Memphis.

Basic behavioral research identifies habituation—the reduction in physiological and behavioral response to a repeated stimulus—as a mechanism that influences eating. Limiting variety in a person’s diet increases the rate of habituation, which reduces intake.

The project will explore whether limiting the variety of high-energy-dense foods improves long-term weight loss, and if there is a particular behavioral phenotype that benefits from this dietary approach to personalize possible treatments.

High-energy-dense foods are high in fat and have low water content, like pastries, chips, cheese, and peanut butter.

In the five-year study, researchers will implement a limited food variety prescription within an 18-month family-based behavioral obesity treatment.


Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674,

Jules Morris (865-719-7072,

Hannah Browning (