Effective: Overweight people who worked on their body image issues alongside dieting lost seven per cent of their starting body weight in a year (posed)
People who want to shed the pounds are far more likely to be successful if they work on improving their body image at the same time, say scientists.
‘Body image’ refers to how confident a person feels in their own skin. This is formed by a mixture of life experience, personality and social pressures.
Researchers found that overweight or obese women who were given general health advice lost two per cent of their starting weight in a year.
However, those who also had regular group sessions discussing personal barriers lost more than three times that amount shaving off an impressive seven per cent of their starting weight over the same period.
For a 14stone woman this was the difference between losing 4lbs and losing 13lbs in 12 months.
The scientists from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University reported their findings in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Research leader Dr Pedro Teixeira from the Technical University of Lisbon, 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 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.’
Almost a quarter of men and women in England and over a third of adults in America are obese.
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and can significantly shorten a person’s life expectancy.
The researchers studied 239 overweight women who had an average Body Mass Index of 31.5, well above the healthy BMI range for women of 18.5-24.9. The measurement is used to calculate whether you are a healthy weight for your height.
They found group work boosted the effectiveness of weight loss programmes based on good nutrition and exercise.
This consisted of 30 weekly group sessions where issues such as exercise, emotional eating and improving body image were discussed as well as how to overcome personal barriers to weight loss and diet lapses.
The women who took this course were far better as self-regulating their eating as a result.
- Nutrition professor loses 2 stone on doughnuts, cakes and crisps diet
- La Dawn H. Hearns of Atlanta loses 211 pounds
- Success Story /Bob Tabor, 57: From 288 pounds to 198 pounds
- Epidemic of Obesity in U.S. Kids Began in Late ’90s
- Family of four lose 44st after taxpayers pay for their gastric bypass surgery