Monday, 18 July 2011 4:34 PM
Improving your body confidence and self-esteem could boost your weight loss success, a joint Portuguese and Welsh study revealed today.
Researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University studied overweight and obese women in a year-long weight loss programme. The findings published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that improving a person’s body image could enhance the effectiveness of weight loss programs based on diet and exercise.
Half the women were provided with general health information about good nutrition, stress management and the importance of looking after your body.
The other half attended 30 weekly group sessions - called ‘The Intervention Plan’ - 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.
Of the women on the behavioural intervention plan, researchers found that the women’s thoughts about their body image were reflected in their dieting and weight loss success.
Those who displayed positive attitudes towards their body shape and their diet plan had more success in losing weight.
Compared to the control group – those who did not receive behavioural and emotional support – the women were better able to self-regulate their eating and lost much more weight, losing on average seven per cent of their starting weight compared to the control group's average loss of less than two per cent.
Technical University of Lisbon's Dr Pedro Teixeira, who led the research, 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.
“Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other people's opinions, and positive changes in eating behaviour.
“From this 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."