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Pilot Investigation of 2 Nondiet Approaches to Improve Weight and Health

Context: Weight loss and maintenance are associated with many health benefits, but long-term maintenance of weight loss remains elusive for many people. Overweight individuals are at higher risk than normal-weight individuals for stress-induced overeating. The use of stress-management tools in a weight loss program might decrease the physiological stress that fuels overeating and improve posttreatment maintenance of weight loss Objective: The study intended to compare the differences in outcomes between 2 approaches to achieving weight loss and changes in health—stress reduction and intuitive eating (IE)—during a 14-wk period. Design: The research team designed a small, randomized, controlled pilot study. Setting: The study took place at the University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY, USA). Participants: Men and women, aged 25 to 65 y, with a body mass index =30 but =40 kg/m2, were recruited through various outlets on a large college campus, and 33 enrolled in the study. Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned either to an IE or to a stress-reduction program (EBT) for a 7 wk intervention and a 7-wk follow-up period. Outcome Measures: Weight, blood pressure, stress, depression, and eating behaviors were measured at baseline, postintervention at week 7, and postintervention at week 14. Results: Participants were 69.7% female and 93.9% Caucasian. An intent-to-treat analysis was conducted on the main outcome of weight. At 14 wk, the EBT group had lost 4.4 ± 6.7 lb (1.99 ± 3.04 kg), and the IE group had lost 1.03 ± 6.10 lb (0.48 ± 2.77 kg). A repeated measures analysis of variance did not find any significant difference between groups for weight change (P = .36). Completers in the EBT group significantly improved blood pressure, perceived stress, and food addiction symptoms from baseline to 7 wk (P < .05). Only the changes in weight were maintained at 14 wk. Conclusions: The study suggested that the stress reduction approach may be viable as an approach to weight loss and improvements in health-related outcomes in the short term. A longer investigation of the program is warranted.

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