Scientific evidence that body image affects weight loss
“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,” says Dr. Pedro J. Teixeira, Technical University of Lisbon, who led a new research study into body image and weight loss. “Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples’ opinions, and positive changes in eating behavior. 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.”
The new study, “Body image change and improved eating self-regulation in a weight management intervention in women” (click link for full study), is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University enrolled overweight and obese women on a year-long weight loss program.
Traditional: In the study, half the women were given general health information about good nutrition, stress management, and the importance of looking after yourself.
Improving Body Image (the intervention plan): The other half attended 30 weekly group sessions 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.
On the behavioral intervention plan women found that the way they thought about their body improved and that concerns about body shape and size were reduced. Compared to the control group they were better able to self-regulate their eating and they lost much more weight, losing on average 7% of their starting weight compared to less than 2% for the control group.
You Can Improve Your Body Image
You don’t necessarily need to attend group sessions to address issues like emotional eating, personal barriers to weight loss, and lapses in diet. There are plenty of resources online, and stay tuned to DailyHap for future exploration into these topics!