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'Mindfulness' approach may help you stay slim

'Mindfulness' approach may help you stay slim

A weight loss treatment which focuses on promoting “mindfulness” may help people shed more pounds, a study claims.

Researchers have looked into a new approach to dieting called Acceptance-Based Behavioral Treatment (ABT), which may help people lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who reduce caloric intake and increased physical activity, known as Standard Behavioral Treatment (SBT).

In a randomised controlled clinical trial, researchers placed approximately 200 obese or overweight people in two groups: SBT or ABT, and went to 25 group sessions over one year, meeting with therapists with expertise in weight loss. The first group received training in nutrition and exercise, including other traditional weight loss strategies, such as how to monitor calories and remove foods from work or home that may induce problematic eating.

The second group received similar training, in addition to the ABT strategies. ABT sessions provided a new clinical approach to weight loss. For instance, people chose a goal based on their personal values, such as living a long and healthy life or being a present, active grandparent.

This allows the dieter to evaluate why their weight loss matters, what do they want in life, and how weight is related to that goal.

After one year the findings revealed participants in the ABT group lost 13.3 per cent of their initial body weight, compared to 9.8 per cent in the standard group. In addition, 64 per cent of participants in the ABT group were able to maintain a 10 per cent weight loss after one year, compared to 49 per cent of participants in the standard group. The success of ABT seemed to be linked to dieters' ability to better curb their food cravings, and to motivate themselves to lose weight.

“Standard Behavioral Treatments (SBT), which emphasise the importance of decreased caloric intake and increased physical activity, can help individuals lose weight for a period of time, but the strategies taught in such a program are difficult to maintain long-term,” said lead author Dr. Evan Forman. “The Acceptance-Based Behavioral Treatment (ABT) method teaches highly specialised self-regulation skills so individuals trying to lose weight can continue making healthful choices long after the programme ends. These skills include mindful decision making, identifying and committing to big-picture life values and a willingness to accept discomfort and reduced pleasure for the sake of those values.”

Researchers hope to conduct further clinical trials into the alternative treatment.

The study results were published in Obesity, the scientific journal of The Obesity Society.

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