Could CBT help tackle obesity?

  • Over the last 5 decades, obesity has reached pandemic proportions.
  • Although the medical community has long known that a healthy diet and exercise play a role in reducing obesity, it often ignores the psychological aspect of having obesity.
  • The results of a recent small scale study outline an effective three-pronged approach to managing obesity.

There has been a significant riseTrusted Source in the worldwide prevalence of obesity over the past 50 years. Numerous diseases, high morbidity levels, and enormous healthcare expenditures are associated with this now pandemic-level health issue.

Recently, researchers from the Obesity Research Group at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, evaluated three long-term treatments designed to improve the overall quality of life for adults with obesity.

The desire to control weight is common across society, as obesity significantly affects both physical and mental health. A 2017 meta-analysisTrusted Source of 72 studies involving a total of more than 1 million people concluded that 42% of the general adult population were trying to lose weight while 23% were trying to maintain their current weight.

Education, exercise, and CBT

People commonly assume that obesity is linked to an imbalance between food intake and physical activity. However, many other factors contribute to weight issues. These factors include the influence of a modern lifestyle that promotes overeatingTrusted Source and the role of fat tissue in maintaining a constant, stable, internal balance.

Earlier researchTrusted Source has shown that the causes of obesity are multifaceted and involve genetic makeup, socioeconomic status, and cultural influences. Psychological factors contributing to obesity include depression, trauma, and emotional eating.

Healthcare practitioners commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as an effective intervention tool to help people with excess body weight. Focusing on behavioral modification strategiesTrusted Source, such as taking time to savor food and chewing slowly, helps enable stimulus control and reduce the quantity of food that people consume.

The new Brazilian study, which determines the effects of different approaches to obesity treatment, appears in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. The researchers randomly assigned a total of 98 adults with obesity to one of three groups: an education and health group, a physical exercise group, and an interdisciplinary therapy plus CBT group.

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