Obesity Counseling Should Stress Brain, Not Willpower:
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity counseling should
focus on neurobehavioral processes -- the ways the brain controls
eating behavior in response to biological and environmental factors
-- instead of personal choice and willpower, researchers
The team at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago outlines
their new counseling approach in the August issue of the
Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
"Typically, overweight and obese patients receive education about dietary contributions to weight gain, and they are simply encouraged to fight the powerful urge to eat the delicious foods that are available almost everywhere in the environment, and instead, make dietary choices consistent with weight loss," lead author Brad Appelhans, a clinical psychologist and obesity researcher, said in a university news release.
"Yet, we know this approach rarely works. Even highly motivated and nutritionally informed patients struggle to refrain from highly palatable foods that are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats," Appelhans continued.
Telling patients that their obesity is caused by unhealthy
personal choices or lack of willpower can be stigmatizing and is
unlikely to motivate them to lose weight, he added.
The new model for obesity counseling focuses on three
neurobehavioral processes consistently linked to obesity and
overeating -- food reward, inhibitory control and time
Food reward refers to the pleasure a person receives from eating
and the desire to eat sweet and fatty foods. Inhibitory control
refers to the ability to suppress urges to eat high-calorie foods.
Time discounting refers to the human tendency to choose the
immediate pleasure from eating over the delayed health benefits of
Strategies that the researchers recommend include removing
high-fat foods from your home and workplace; shopping for groceries
online or with a grocery list; practicing stress management to
limit emotional eating; and avoiding challenging situations such as
restaurants and buffets.
Also, set short-term behavioral goals, such as preparing healthy
meals several nights a week, instead of concentrating on long-term
weight loss, they advised.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases offers advice about
weight loss for life.
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