Institute Affiliations

  • Member, Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI)

Professional Education

  • Internship, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford/Children's Health Council (2018)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California San Diego (2018)
  • Master of Science, San Diego State University (2014)
  • Bachelor of Science, Duke University (2010)

Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


All Publications

  • Bariatric Surgery in Children and Adolescents with Cognitive Impairment and/or Developmental Delay: Current Knowledge and Clinical Recommendations. Obesity surgery Matheson, B. E., Colborn, D., Bohon, C. 2019


    Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for children and adolescents with severe obesity. However, outcomes in youth with cognitive impairments and/or developmental delays are understudied. This paper reviewed the literature on bariatric surgery within this population. Fourteen studies published from 1975 to 2019 were identified. The majority (93%) of studies included patients with genetic disorders. Most studies reported no peri-operative complications (69%) and improved health outcomes (79%), with variable weight-loss results (29.2-86.2% excess weight loss). No significant differences were reported for youth with and without cognitive impairment and/or developmental delay in two studies. Limited available data suggest bariatric surgery may promote weight loss and improve health comorbidities for youth, irrespective of cognitive or developmental functioning. Clinical recommendations for working with patients and families are included.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11695-019-04219-2

    View details for PubMedID 31637672

  • A Pilot Study Investigating the Feasibility and Acceptability of a Parent-Only Behavioral Weight-Loss Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders Matheson, B. E., Drahota, A., Boutelle, K. N. 2019


    Evidence-based weight-loss treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are lacking. Therefore, a parent-based weight-loss treatment for children with ASD (PBT-ASD) was developed. A pilot study was conducted to test the initial efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of this intervention. Parents of 20 children with ASD and overweight/obesity (mean age=9.90 (SD=2.31) years; 90% male; 40% Hispanic) participated in a 16-session PBT-ASD. The PBT-ASD program was found to be feasible and acceptable. Both children and parents lost weight from pre- to post-treatment (p's<.05). Parent-reported child physical activity and vegetable consumption increased at post-treatment (p's<.05). This pilot study provides a proof-of-concept for PBT-ASD. Randomized controlled trials with larger samples and follow-up are needed.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10803-019-04178-8

    View details for PubMedID 31414266

  • Development and validation of a short form Children's power of Food Scale. Appetite Stone, M. D., Matheson, B. E., Leventhal, A. M., Boutelle, K. N. 2019: 104549


    To develop and validate a shortened form of the Children's Power of Food Scale (C-PFS), which measures anticipated reward from consuming highly palatable foods (i.e., hedonic hunger). Presently, two gaps exist with the C-PFS: the need for a shorter tighter measure, and evidence to support similar item function across populations.Ninth grade students (N?=?3,277; 14.1?±?0.4 years; 53.5% Female; 47% Hispanic) from 10 Los Angeles high schools completed the C-PFS and other surveys in class. Factor analysis, graded response modeling, and differential item functioning explored the structure of the 15?C-PFS items and identified a reduced set that parsimoniously taps hedonic hunger across the latent continuum and exhibits item-level invariance across sex, race/ethnicity, and weight status. Convergent validity was examined via associations of self-reported dietary intake, impulsivity, and body mass index (BMI) to C-PFS scores.Factor analytic models supported a single, primary dimension of hedonic hunger that accounted for 61% of the variance across all 15-items (??=?0.94). Adequate severity, discriminatory ability, and non-overlapping item-difficulty were observed for 11-items, of which 9-items were found to have item-level invariance across demographic and weight status groupings. Poor performing items were removed to create a 9-item scale (C-PFS-9; ??=?0.93). Convergent validity was demonstrated as higher C-PFS-9 scores were significantly related to greater sweet (??=?0.32, [95%CI?=?0.23, 0.41], p?

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104549

    View details for PubMedID 31809813

  • The relationship between executive functioning and weight loss and maintenance in children and parents participating in family-based treatment for childhood obesity BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH AND THERAPY Eichen, D. M., Matheson, B. E., Liang, J., Strong, D. R., Rhee, K., Boutelle, K. N. 2018; 105: 10?16


    We examined the relationship between executive function and weight loss among children (8-12 years) and parents enrolled in a behavioral weight-loss program. 150 overweight/obese children and their parents participated in a 6-month family-based weight-loss intervention and completed baseline (month 0), post-treatment (month 6) and 18-month follow-up assessments (month 24), which included Digit Span (DS), Stop Signal Task (SST), and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Anthropometrics were additionally measured at mid-treatment (month 3) and 6-month follow-up (month 12). Children with more baseline WCST perseverative errors regained more weight (p?=?.002) at 18-month follow-up. Change in child BMIz was not associated with change in child executive function (p?>?.05) or parent executive function (p?>?.05). Among parents, baseline measure of DS-backward (p?

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.brat.2018.03.010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000432501600002

    View details for PubMedID 29609102

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5924708

  • A Review of Childhood Behavioral Problems and Disorders in the Development of Obesity: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Beyond CURRENT OBESITY REPORTS Matheson, B. E., Eichen, D. M. 2018; 7 (1): 19?26


    Given the high rates of pediatric and adult obesity, it is imperative to identify early risk factors that might contribute to excess weight gain. This review aims to investigate the relationship between childhood behavioral problems with the development and persistence of obesity. Specifically, this review highlights the association of obesity with (1) neurocognitive constructs, such as executive functioning and inhibition/impulsivity, and (2) disorders commonly diagnosed in childhood, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Consistent evidence supports a relationship between childhood behavioral problems, executive functioning, inhibition/impulsivity, ADHD, and ASD with obesity across the lifespan. Longitudinal studies suggest behavior problems, neurocognitive functioning deficits, and ADHD symptoms in childhood predict weight gain over time. Identifying risk factors in childhood that promote obesity may help develop targeted intervention and prevention programs. Additional research should elucidate mechanisms that account for these relationships.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13679-018-0293-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000426356900003

    View details for PubMedID 29411333

  • Neurocognitive Treatments for Eating Disorders and Obesity CURRENT PSYCHIATRY REPORTS Eichen, D. M., Matheson, B. E., Appleton-Knapp, S. L., Boutelle, K. N. 2017; 19 (9): 62


    Recent research has highlighted executive function and neurocognitive deficits among individuals with eating and weight disorders, identifying a potential target for treatment. Treatments targeting executive function for eating and weight disorders are emerging. This review aims to summarize the recent literature evaluating neurocognitive/executive function-oriented treatments for eating and weight disorders and highlights additional work needed in this area.Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) for anorexia nervosa has been the most extensively studied neurocognitive treatment for eating disorders. Results demonstrate that CRT improves executive function and may aid in the reduction of eating disorder symptomatology. Computer training programs targeting modifying attention and increasing inhibition are targeting reduction of binge eating and weight loss with modest success. Neurocognitive treatments are emerging and show initial promise for eating and weight disorders. Further research is necessary to determine whether these treatments can be used as stand-alone treatments or whether they need to be used as an adjunct to or in conjunction with other evidence-based treatments to improve outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11920-017-0813-7

    View details for Web of Science ID 000407672300008

    View details for PubMedID 28744627

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5669379

  • Behind binge eating: A review of food-specific adaptations of neurocognitive and neuroimaging tasks Berner, L. A., Winter, S. R., Matheson, B. E., Benson, L., Lowe, M. R. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD. 2017: 59?70


    Recurrent binge eating, or overeating accompanied by a sense of loss of control, is a major public health concern. Identifying similarities and differences among individuals with binge eating and those with other psychiatric symptoms and characterizing the deficits that uniquely predispose individuals to eating problems are essential to improving treatment. Research suggests that altered reward and control-related processes may contribute to dysregulated eating and other impulsive behaviors in binge-eating populations, but the best methods for reliably assessing the contributions of these processes to binge eating are unclear. In this review, we summarize standard neurocognitive and neuroimaging tasks that assess reward and control-related processes, describe adaptations of these tasks used to study eating and food-specific responsivity and deficits, and consider the advantages and limitations of these tasks. Future studies integrating both general and food-specific tasks with neuroimaging will improve understanding of the neurocognitive processes and neural circuits that contribute to binge eating and could inform novel interventions that more directly target or prevent this transdiagnostic behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.03.037

    View details for Web of Science ID 000402212000009

    View details for PubMedID 28363840

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5695923

  • Overweight and Obesity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a Critical Review Investigating the Etiology, Development, and Maintenance of this Relationship REVIEW JOURNAL OF AUTISM AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS Matheson, B. E., Douglas, J. M. 2017; 4 (2): 142?56
  • Mental Health Diagnostic Considerations in Racial/Ethnic Minority Youth JOURNAL OF CHILD AND FAMILY STUDIES Liang, J., Matheson, B. E., Douglas, J. M. 2016; 25 (6): 1926?40


    Misdiagnoses of racial/ethnic minority youth's mental health problems can potentially contribute to inappropriate mental health care. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review that focuses on current theory and empirical research in an attempt to answer the following two questions: 1) What evidence exists that supports or contradicts the idea that racial/ethnic minority youth's mental health problems are misdiagnosed? 2) What are the sources of misdiagnoses? Articles were reviewed from 1967 to 2014 using PsychINFO, PubMed, and GoogleScholar. Search terms included "race", "ethnicity", "minority", "culture", "children", "youth", "adolescents", "mental health", "psychopathology", "diagnosis", "misdiagnosis", "miscategorization", "underdiagnosis", and "overdiagnosis". Seventy-two articles and book chapters met criteria and were included in this review. Overall, evidence was found that supports the possibility of misdiagnosis of ethnic minority youth's emotional and behavioral problems. However, the evidence is limited such that it cannot be determined whether racial/ethnic differences are due to differences in psychopathology, mental health biases, and/or inaccurate diagnoses. Cultural and contextual factors that may influence misdiagnosis as well as recommendations for research and practice are discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10826-015-0351-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376020200020

    View details for PubMedID 27346929

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4916917

  • Parental control and overconsumption of snack foods in overweight and obese children APPETITE Liang, J., Matheson, B. E., Rhee, I. E., Peterson, C. B., Rydell, S., Boutelle, I. N. 2016; 100: 181?88


    The associations between snack food consumption, parent feeding practices and general parenting in overweight in obese children are largely unknown. Therefore, we examined these relationships in 117 treatment-seeking overweight and obese children (10.40 ± 1.35 years; 53% female; 52% Caucasian; BMI-z: 2.06 ± .39). Children consumed a dinner meal, completed an Eating in the Absence of Hunger (EAH) free access paradigm (total EAH intake = EAH%-total; sweet food intake = EAH%-sweet), and completed the Child Report of Parent Behavior Inventory. Parents completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire. Child EAH%-total and EAH%-sweet were positively associated with dinner consumption (p's < .01). Girls had significantly higher EAH%-total compared to boys (p < .05). In separate models, higher EAH%-total was associated with greater use of maternal psychological control (p < .05) and EAH%-sweet was positively associated with parent monitoring (p < .05). In analyses examining factors associated with the consumption of specific foods, EAH snack food, parent restriction, pressure to eat, monitoring, and maternal psychological control were positively correlated with intake of Hershey's(®) chocolate bars (p's < .05). In summary, parental monitoring is associated with child sweet snack food intake and maternal psychological control is associated with child total snack food consumption. Future research should evaluate the complex relationship between child eating and parenting, especially with regard to subgroups of foods.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.appet.2016.02.030

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373866200021

    View details for PubMedID 26911259

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4799726

  • The relationship between parent feeding styles and general parenting with loss of control eating in treatment-seeking overweight and obese children INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EATING DISORDERS Matheson, B. E., Camacho, C., Peterson, C. B., Rhee, K. E., Rydell, S. A., Zucker, N. L., Boutelle, K. N. 2015; 48 (7): 1047?55


    To examine differences in parent feeding behaviors and general parenting of overweight children with and without loss of control (LOC) eating.One-hundred-and-eighteen overweight and obese children (10.40 ±?1.35 years; 53% female; 52% Caucasian; BMI-z: 2.06?±?0.39) and their parents (42.42?±?6.20 years; 91% female; 70% Caucasian; BMI: 31.74?±?6.96 kg/m(2) ) were seen at a baseline assessment visit for a behavioral intervention that targeted overeating. The Eating Disorder Examination, adapted for children (ChEDE) was administered to assess for LOC eating. Parents completed the Parental Feeding Styles Questionnaire (PFSQ) and the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) to assess parent feeding styles and behaviors. Children also completed a self-report measure of general parenting (Child Report of Parent Behavior Inventory, CRPBI-30).Forty-three children (36.40%) reported at least one LOC eating episode in the month prior to assessment. Parents who reported greater restriction and higher levels of pressure to eat were more likely to have children that reported LOC eating (ps? 0.05).Parent feeding styles and behaviors appear to be differentially and uniquely related to LOC eating in treatment-seeking overweight and obese children. Future research is needed to determine if implementing interventions that target parent feeding behaviors may reduce LOC eating, prevent full-syndrome eating disorders, and reduce weight gain in youth.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/eat.22440

    View details for Web of Science ID 000363460300028

    View details for PubMedID 26283589

  • The relationship between eating disorders and sexual trauma EATING AND WEIGHT DISORDERS-STUDIES ON ANOREXIA BULIMIA AND OBESITY Madowitz, J., Matheson, B. E., Liang, J. 2015; 20 (3): 281?93


    Research aimed at understanding the causes and comorbidities of eating disorders (ED) identifies sexual trauma as one potential pathway to the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Based on current literature, there are two main etiological pathways between sexual trauma and ED-body perceptions and psychological difficulties. However, previously published reviews on this topic are outdated and have not yielded consistent findings. Therefore, authors completed a literature review covering years 2004-2014 to examine the relationship between sexual trauma and ED according to both proposed pathway models. Authors utilized PubMed, GoogleScholar, and PsychINFO as search engines. Search terms included "sexual assault", "sexual abuse", "sexual trauma", and "rape" in conjunction with relevant ED terminology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria for this review. Current data indicate an increased prevalence of sexual trauma for individuals with ED. Although limited, recent evidence suggests that sexual trauma precedes and contributes to the development of ED. Existing literature indicates that the body perceptions pathway may impact ED through body dissatisfaction, shame, sexual dysfunction, and fear of future sexual trauma. The psychological difficulties pathway indicates a link between ED and the desire to cope with the failure of the average expected environment, psychological diagnoses, the need for control, and the regulation of emotions. However, further research is needed to assess the potential causal role that sexual trauma may play in the etiology of ED.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s40519-015-0195-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000360568600001

    View details for PubMedID 25976911

  • A Brief, Intensive Application of Multi-Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders EATING DISORDERS Knatz, S., Murray, S. B., Matheson, B., Boutelle, K. N., Rockwell, R., Eisler, I., Kaye, W. H. 2015; 23 (4): 315?24


    There is a continued need to improve upon the efficacy and availability of treatments for anorexia nervosa. Family-based therapy for anorexia nervosa demonstrates strong empirical evidence; however, trained treatment providers are limited and a subsample of participants receiving the treatment fail to respond. The intensive family treatment program is a brief, time-limited, multi-family program that trains families of adolescents with eating disorders to oversee their adolescents' recovery at home by providing psychoeducation, skills training, and immersive practice over the course of a 5-day period. This article provide a description of the program by summarizing underlying theoretical principles and key therapeutic components.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/10640266.2015.1042318

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356267600005

    View details for PubMedID 25984656

  • Parent Binge Eating and Depressive Symptoms as Predictors of Attrition in a Family-Based Treatment for Pediatric Obesity CHILDHOOD OBESITY Braden, A. L., Madowitz, J., Matheson, B. E., Bergmann, K., Crow, S. J., Boutelle, K. N. 2015; 11 (2): 165?69


    Attrition is a significant problem in family-based treatment (FBT) for childhood obesity. Despite this, very few studies have examined factors associated with attrition. The current study examined parent symptoms of depression and binge eating as predictors of attrition in FBT.Participants included 77 parents of overweight children enrolled in FBT for childhood obesity. Data were collected at baseline and post-treatment. Binary logistic regression was used to assess associations between parent binge eating symptoms, depressive symptoms, and attrition.Results showed that parent binge eating symptoms (p=0.02), but not depressive symptoms (p=0.07), were significantly associated with attrition, after controlling for parent BMI, treatment group assignment, and family income.Higher reported parent binge eating symptoms were significantly related to attrition in FBT. Assessment of parent binge eating may be important in identifying families at risk for dropping out of FBT. Further, FBT may need to be adapted for families with parents who have a high level of psychopathology.

    View details for DOI 10.1089/chi.2014.0109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000352240100009

    View details for PubMedID 25715322

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4382825

  • Design and implementation of a study evaluating extinction processes to food cues in obese children: The Intervention for Regulations of Cues Trial (iROC) CONTEMPORARY CLINICAL TRIALS Boutelle, K. N., Liang, J., Knatz, S., Matheson, B., Risbrough, V., Strong, D., Rhee, K. E., Craske, M. G., Zucker, N., Bouton, M. E. 2015; 40: 95?104


    Obesity and its health sequelae affect a significant portion of children in the United States. Yet, the current gold-standard family-based behavioral weight-loss treatments are only effective for one-third of children long-term. Therefore, we developed iROC (Intervention for Regulation of Cues) to specifically target a method to decrease overeating in overweight children, based on learning theory, to inform and enhance interventions targeting diet and obesity in youth. This study will rigorously test extinction processes as a method of decreasing physiological and psychological responses to food cues in overweight and obese children. Through exposing children to their highly craved foods, and 'training the brain and body' to decrease overeating, we are hoping to produce longer-lasting weight loss or weight-gain prevention over time.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cct.2014.11.011

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349732000012

    View details for PubMedID 25461494

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4314468

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