Girls who took part in interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), may be better able to prevent obesity over the years, compared to girls who took traditional health education classes, says a new research.

IPT focuses on improving relationships by targeting the underlying social and interpersonal difficulties that influence individuals to engage in binge eating.

The study, led by Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, Uniformed Services University (USU), aimed to target youth prone to excessive weight gain because they were already on the heavier side and reported episodes of binge or uncontrolled eating.

"We conducted this study (based on 38 girls) to address the dramatically increased rates of obesity in children and adolescents," said Tanofsky-Kraff.

"'IPT for Binge Eating Disorder' is based on the assumption that binge eating occurs in response to poor social functioning and the consequent negative moods," she added.

Both higher weight and binge eating are linked to excessive weight gain in children and young people. The therapy has been shown to help both depressed adults and youth and, also to help tackle binge eating in adults, said an USU release.

In adult studies, decreases in binge eating may lead to modest weight loss and less regain over time compared with those who continue to binge eat. Thus, decreasing binge eating is an attractive target for preventing obesity in at-risk youth.

These findings were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.