for people ages 8-11 (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
at La Jolla, California
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D.



The objective of the study is to compare children at low risk for obesity (two healthy weight parents) to children at high risk for obesity (two overweight parents) in their response rate to food taste and in their rate of learning using fMRI.


The primary aim of this project is to conduct an adequately powered study that compares children at low risk for obesity to children at high risk for obesity on their brain responses to food tastes during a pavlovian learning task. Seven assessment visits will be conducted at three separate time points; baseline, 1-year follow up, and 2-year follow up. Assessments will include anthropometry, interviews, computer tasks, questionnaires, and an fMRI scan. This program of research tests a novel hypothesis regarding overeating and the development of obesity in children, and could provide critical data on individual vulnerabilities to overeating for further research. Furthermore, this study could provide mechanisms for intervention with regards to cue-reward learning in children, to ultimately prevent obesity in youth.


Overweight, Obesity, Body Mass Index, Weight, Brain imaging, Child, Learning, Weight Gain, Functional MRI


You can join if…

Open to people ages 8-11

  • Healthy weight children between the ages of 8 and 11 Years
  • BMI 5-75th percentile
  • Child must be right-handed
  • Child must be willing to participate in an fMRI scan
  • Either two biological parents who are overweight/obese or no biological parents that are overweight/obese
  • One biological parent willing to bring child to assessment visits
  • Child and participating parent Fluent in English for speaking, reading, and writing
  • Child must like cheese pizza and chocolate milkshake

You CAN'T join if...

  • Child overweight (BMI≥85th percentile)
  • Child diagnoses of a serious chronic physical disease (e.g., diabetes) for which physician supervision of diet and exercise prescription are needed
  • Child who is taking medications that may impact brain responses (can take kids who are stable on meds)
  • Child with MRI contraindications (presence of metallic foreign object or device in body, piercings that cannot be removed, tattooed permanent makeup that contain metal, braces, head trauma, claustrophobia, use of Bigen permanent hair dye)
  • Child with an active eating disorder (reported on EDE interview) or with first degree relative with Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa
  • Cognitive impairment or disability determined through parent and child self-report measures, and parent reported child individual education plan
  • Vision problems uncorrectable with lenses
  • Food allergies related to cheese pizza, chocolate milkshake, or the snack foods used in the study
  • Menarche in female participants at time of enrollment
  • Children scoring within the midpubertal range or higher based on the Pubertal Development Scale


  • UCSD Center for Healthy Eating and Activity Research (CHEAR)
    La Jolla California 92093 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSD

  • Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D.
    Professor, Pediatrics, Vc-health Sciences-schools. Authored (or co-authored) 137 research publications


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Diego
Study Type
About 147 people participating
Last Updated