What are the risks associated with obesity?
- Obesity was the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. in 2000, second only to tobacco
- Obesity is consistently linked to severe medical problems including: heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, Type II diabetes, many types of cancer, arthritis, complications during pregnancy, and sleep apnea
- Overweight and obesity are often associated with emotional and psychological conditions: shame, guilt, social embarrassment, relationship difficulties, poor body image, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety
- As many as 30% of overweight individuals seeking treatment for weight loss also have Binge Eating Disorder (BED). BED is a psychological condition characterized by:
- Consumption of an objectively large amount of food in one sitting
- Feeling a loss of control during the binge
- Eating more rapidly than normal
- Eating large amounts when not hungry and until comfortably full
- Eating alone due to embarrassment
- Feelings of disgust, sadness, and guilt after bingeing
- Individuals with Binge Eating Disorders are more likely to be depressed, and they are less likely to be helped by traditional weight loss programs.
What can I do about my weight? How effective are weight loss treatments?
- A 10% reduction in weight generally produces significant physical and psychological health benefits
- There are numerous self-help books, popular diet programs, support groups, and specialized treatment programs available for weight loss. Americans spend more than $33 billion per year on weight loss products and services, and most Americans have attempted at least one diet.
- While many programs are successful in bringing about weight loss, most individuals have had the experience of quickly regaining the lost weight once the program/diet is terminated. In fact, research has shown that most individuals regain most or all of the weight lost within three years of traditional weight loss programs or diet plans.
- Cognitive-behavioral treatment is considered the most effective treatment approach for weight loss/maintenance. Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral treatment is especially effective when it includes education on nutrition and increasing physical activity.
What is cognitive-behavioral treatment for weight loss?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a scientifically-based program developed after years of research on the most effective approaches to weight loss. Cognitive-behavioral treatment for weight loss/maintenance consists of three basic stages:
- Changing eating behaviors
- Challenging cognitions, or the psychological patterns and dysfunctional thinking that gets in the way of healthy eating
- Long-term maintenance of weight loss
Phase 1: Eating behaviors
- Learning to recognize and adjust destructive eating patterns
- Gaining control over binges
- Education about nutritional needs and hunger
- Identifying alternatives to social and emotional eatingStarting a manageable exercise program
- Restricting calories for steady and healthy weight loss
Phase 2: Cognitions
- Identifying cognitive distortions
- Adjusting thinking to promote success rather than shame and hopelessness
- Reducing depression and anxiety
- Increasing social support and improving existing relationships
- Learning stress management skills
- Improving body image and self-confidence
Phase 3: Maintenance
- Development of individualized weight management plans
- Prevention of weight regain
- Maintaining motivation for a healthy lifestyle
- Strengthening coping skills for challenging situations and future setbacks
What about Atkins, South Beach, etc?
- The short- and long-term safety of low-carbohydrate diets is questionable, and these diets are difficult to stick with for long periods of time
- Recent research found that low-carb diets are no more effective than low-fat, low-calorie plans for initial weight loss, but individuals who followed a low-carb diet gained back more weight over time
What should I do next?
Mindy Staum, LCSW offers both individual and group treatments for weight loss and binge eating disorder. If you would like further information about cognitive-behavioral treatment, please call Mindy Staum, LCSW 732-580-8383
To download more information on obesity and weight control please click on the chapters below:
-Edited by Thomas A. Wadden and Albert J. Stunkard
-Edited by Thomas F. Cash and Thomas Pruzinsky
Or link to a wide range of resources below:
- The USDA Guide to Food and Nutrition
- For a fat and calorie counter with dietary information on over 1500 foods, click here.
- Weight loss and nutrition myths. How much do you really know?
- The new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005
- USDA: How Many Calories do Adults Need?
- CDC: Tips for Being More Active
- Weight Management Recommendations from the American Dietetic Association