Obesity Therapy

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:

  1. Changing eating behaviors
  2. Challenging cognitions, or the psychological patterns and dysfunctional thinking that gets in the way of healthy eating
  3. 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

Recommended Reading:

The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person

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: