Stress management can facilitate weight loss in Greek overweight and obese women: a pilot study

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Abstract

Background

Stress and negative emotions have been shown to be critical factors in inducing overeating as a form of maladaptive coping in obese people.

Methods

The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an 8-week stress management programme that includes progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and diaphragmatic breathing on weight loss and eating behaviour in a sample of overweight and obese women who started a weight-loss programme. A total of 34 women with a mean (SD) body mass index of 38.17 (7.19) kg m−2 and mean (SD) age 47.35 (11.64) years were recruited from the outpatients Obesity Clinic of a public hospital in Athens. Participants were randomly assigned into a Stress Management (SM) and a control group. Anthropometric measurements were taken before and after the intervention, and the participants completed the following questionnaires: Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ), Eating Attitudes Test (Eat-26), Health Locus of Control (HLC) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before and after the intervention.

Results

The findings indicated a significant improvement in weight loss in the SM group [4.44 (0.83) kg] after intervention compared to the control group [1.38 (0.78) kg] (P < 0.05). A higher restrained eating behaviour was observed in the SM group after intervention compared to the control group, although there was no significant difference in perceived stress levels.

Conclusions

The intervention group showed greater weight reduction, possibly because of the stress management programme, and a greater dietary restraint was demonstrated by them compared to the control group. It is likely that stress management could facilitate weight loss in obese women; however, more studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

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