Can experts in behaviour change help boost weight loss for overweight people? McGill University researchers think so: they report significant results—up to 10% of body-mass loss with this approach.
Bärbel Knäuper, Steven Grover and their team worked with nearly 200 overweight participants (both men and women) using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in a year-long program to achieve greater weight loss in a group setting. Their results suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy skills of the coaches (clinical psychology doctoral students) who delivered the program were a key factor in the treatment outcome—as was the regular tracking of eating and physical activity on online platforms like MyFitnessPal or myhealthcheckup.
Group-based weight loss programs normally lead to only around 3-5% weight loss. The researchers sought ways to improve the efficacy of these programs through a stronger focus on habit change.
The researchers found that:
- Behavioural weight loss programs should be administered by experts in behaviour change.
- A significant amount of weight loss was achieved in a group-based program—10% (roughly translating into 10kg per person) in 12 months on average. Most participants maintained this weight loss one year after program end.
- One group that did not benefit as much from the program are individuals who overeat in response to negative emotions (emotional eaters).
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