Today’s Solutions: April 14, 2024

Obesity is a complex issue because it not only presents itself as a physical health challenge but oftentimes as a mental health challenge as well. There are often many psychological factors behind obesity that can in fact be more difficult to address than obesity itself. Fortunately, a new study from the European Society of Cardiology has found an effective treatment plan for patients who wish to reach a healthier weight that focuses not on food restriction but on forming a better relationship with food.

In order to reduce the negative health consequences associated with obesity, like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, researchers designed a treatment plan focused on developing a healthier relationship with nutrition and eating. It involved no dieting, and no food items were off-limits.

Rather, the 10-week plan included a 2.5 hour weekly session involving individual goal setting, a guided exercise course with a physiotherapist, and finally, a healthy living talk focused on topics such as nutrition, portion sizes, reading food labels, emotional versus physical hunger, stress management techniques, physical activity, sedentary behavior, cardiovascular risk factors, and making and maintaining changes.

Following the program, which eight of ten participants completed in its entirety, participants experienced reduced anxiety and depression as well as an average two kilogram reduction in weight. The change was more pronounced for some with 27.2 percent of participants losing more than three percent of their initial weight.

Oftentimes, individuals will turn to extreme diets to approach weight loss, while neglecting the emotional factors that drive unhealthy eating habits. By returning to nutrition basics and supporting holistic health, this program saw improved health outcomes which set participants up for long term weight loss success.

“Many participants have tried diets with strict rules and have fears about foods they can’t eat. Our program has no diet or meal plan, and no foods are excluded. Each person sets their own goals, which are reviewed weekly, and our approach is non-judgemental, which builds rapport and gains trust,” said study author Aisling Harris.

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