"Love your body" to lose weightPositive self-image important in dieting
Obesity is a growing health problem in the UK and many other countries, but many of us struggle to lose weight.
This can lead to a vicious cycle, as failure to stick to a diet plan can lead to negative feelings which result in behaviour such as comfort eating and excessive drinking - adding to the problem in the first place.
Now a new study has demonstrated that people who are encouraged to have a positive self-image about their body can significantly increase the amount of weight lost during a diet.
Scientists at the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University recruited overweight and obese women into a year-long weight-loss programme.
Half of the women were given general information about good nutrition, stress management, and the importance of looking after yourself.
The other half were enrolled in an "intervention plan" which required attendance at weekly meetings where issues such as exercise, emotional eating, improving body image and the recognition of, and how to overcome, personal barriers to weight loss and lapses from the diet were discussed.
The second group of women found that the way they thought about their body improved and that concerns about body shape and size were reduced, and importantly, they lost more weight than the first group.
In fact the women on the "intervention plan" lost on average seven per cent of their starting body weight compared to two per cent in the control group - more than three times as much.
Commenting on the results, study leader Pedro J Teixeira said: "Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight.
"We believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control program."
The study is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
This article was published on Mon 18 July 2011
Image © Luis Louro - Fotolia.com
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