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Tags: emotions | weight | loss

Emotions: Biggest Barrier to Weight Loss?

Monday, 14 January 2013 09:54 AM EST

Contrary to what many believe, junk food and an aversion to sweat aren’t the biggest obstacles to weight loss, a new study suggests. Nine in 10 psychologists who help people deal with weight-loss challenges say “underlying emotions,” tied to how they view food and body image, are the most significant hurdles to shedding pounds.
The results of the survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, suggest dieters need to pay more attention to the role emotions play in weight gain and loss if they hope to succeed.
"Anyone who has ever tried to lose a few pounds and keep them off knows that doing so isn't easy," said Norman B. Anderson, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “The good news is that research and clinical experience have shown that, in addition to behavioral approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy that targets emotional barriers helps people lose weight.”
For the survey, Consumer Reports asked 1,328 licensed psychologists about their work and professional opinions regarding weight loss involving their patients. The online poll, designed in partnership with the American Psychological Association, asked which strategies were essential to losing weight and keeping it off. Among the psychologists’ answers:
• Ninety-two percent reported helping a client "address underlying emotional issues related to weight gain";
• More than 70 percent identified cognitive therapy, problem-solving, and mindfulness as "excellent" or "good" weight loss strategies;
• "Understanding and managing the behaviors and emotions related to weight management" was deemed essential by 44 percent of those surveyed; and
• "Emotional eating" was cited by 43 percent as a barrier to weight loss; “maintaining a regular exercise schedule" was identified as key by 43 percent; and “making proper food choices in general" was called deemed important by 28 percent.
In general, most psychologists said gaining self-control over behaviors and emotions related to eating were both very important. In addition, motivational strategies, keeping behavioral records, and goal-setting were also keys to helping clients to lose weight and keep it off. The researchers noted cognitive therapy can help by focusing on getting people to identify and address negative thoughts and emotions that can lead to unhealthy behaviors.
“Although it is generally accepted that weight problems are most often caused by a combination of biological, emotional, behavioral, and environmental issues, these new results show the key role of stress and emotional regulation in losing weight," said Anderson. “Therefore, the best weight-loss tactics should integrate strategies to address emotion and behavior as well as lifestyle approaches to exercise and making healthy eating choices.”
The survey results will be reported in the February issue of Consumer Reports Magazine and online at ConsumerReports.org.

© HealthDay

'Underlying emotions' — not junk food and an aversion to exercise — are the biggest obstacles to weight loss, a new study suggests.
Monday, 14 January 2013 09:54 AM
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