New research suggests certain psychological characteristics may aid individuals in their quest to lose weight while other traits may complicate the task.
Surprisingly, being too optimistic could harm weight loss efforts. However, individuals who were able to improve their self-awareness through counseling were more likely to lose weight than those who were not.
Hitomi Saito from Doshisha University, Japan, worked with a team of researchers to psychologically profile 101 obese patients undergoing combined counseling, nutrition and exercise therapy at the Kansai Medical University Hospital Obesity Clinic over a period of 6 months.
Patients’ psychosocial characteristics before and after attending the clinic were assessed using psychological questionnaires designed to identify patients’ personality types.
Optimism and self-orientation characteristics improved for most patients after the 6-month program, although this was not related to weight loss. In fact, patients who started the program with high levels of self-orientation and optimistic characteristics were less likely to lose weight.
This result supports previous findings that some negative emotion has a positive effect on behavior modification because patients care more about their disease. However, the overall improvement in optimistic ego state is not necessarily detrimental, as this increased optimism should result in patients maintaining the healthy lifestyle achieved at the clinic.
“It is important to enhance patients’ self-effectiveness and self-control in order to reduce psychological stress and to maintain the weight loss,” state the authors.
However they are careful to stress that “the weight loss should be attributed not simply to the intervention of the clinical psychologists but to the total effect of the intervention of a holistic medical care team.”
The research is published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, BioPsychoSocial Medicine.
Source: BioMed Central