Emotional Eating

Obesity in the UK is an ever-increasing problem with an estimated 60.8 per cent of adults and 31.1 per cent of children being assessed as overweight (BBC 2012).  It has major health implications, for some experts link being significantly overweight to a ranges of health issues, including:

Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast and prostate cancers.

The causes of obesity are complex and can involve chemical brain imbalance and unconscious cognitive processing that affects eating behaviours.  Research into how emotions can contribute to the problem is also being carried out (Levitan and Davis, 2010).  Food can be used to alleviate negative emotional states and for some, leads to a significant weight increase.  Anyone with an eating disorder that includes obesity should always consult their doctor.

Research has shown that cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective psychological approach for weight loss and eating disorders.  It is aimed at developing strategies to facilitate behavioural changes for losing weight and maintaining weight loss.  A clinical trial conducted at the University of North Carolina (2011) found that participants who received CBT for binge eating disorders had better outcomes than others who did not.

Another earlier study (1986) in the use of hypnosis with a group of 60 females who were at least 20% overweight found that the hypnosis group lost an average of 17 pounds whilst the control group lost an average of 0.5 of a pound.  A further study cited in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1985) of 109 patients who received either CBT or CBT and hypnotherapy showed that at a 2-year follow-up the CBT and hypnotherapy group continued to lose significant weight, whereas those who only received CBT showed little change.

Byom (2009) in a study on the efficacy of hypnosis combined with CBT found that the results indicated the use of hypnosis improves a cognitive behavioural treatment for weight loss.  Hypnosis has been shown to increase motivation and adherence to the treatment.

BBC (2012)  What is obesity?  accessed on-line 21/11/12

Bulik C and Runfola C (2011) University of North Carolina

Byom TK (2009) A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Three Group Treatments for Weight Loss ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Cochrane G and Friesen J, (1986) Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54. 489-492

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1985)

Levitan RD and Davis C (2010)  Emotions and Eating Behaviours University of Toronto Vol  79 No 2/2010 accessed online 21/11/12

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