Weight loss could benefit from attention to visible food in the home and self-esteem
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Weight loss is a big topic (no pun intended).
There’s lots of people flogging new and ever more zany diets and exercise regimes around the place. Yet no one’s getting skinnier.
Psychologists have found two commonly overlooked factors which could be key to weight loss.
Obese people are more likely to keep food visible around the house — especially outside the kitchen, according to research.
The research’s lead author, Professor Charles Emery, a psychologist at Ohio State said:
The amount of food in the homes was similar, but in the homes of obese individuals, food was distributed in more locations outside the kitchen.
That speaks to the environment being arranged in a way that may make it harder to avoid eating food.
That has not been clearly documented before.
Obese participants in the study said they were more worried about having access to food when they needed it.
They also said they found it hard to avoid eating when they felt stressed, whether or not they were hungry, or in settings where eating is socially acceptable.
Professor Emery said:
This may reflect a greater preoccupation with food, and that is also important.
If food is something you’re thinking about a lot, it potentially becomes a source of stress.
And yet it’s something hard not to think about.
You can’t just stop eating, but ideally you can change the way you eat and, to some degree, change the way you’re thinking about eating.
This suggests the home environment is a vital place to start when trying to a lose weight.
Professor Emery said:
I do think the home environment is a really important place to focus on since that’s where most people spend a majority of their time.
For interventions, we should be thinking about the home as a place to start helping people establish what we know to be healthier habits and behaviors.
(I’ve talked about how to take advantage of this science-backed weight loss secret before, here).
The study also found that low weight-related self-esteem was linked to obesity.
Self-esteem is not normally targeted by adult weight-loss programs.
Professor Emery explained:
Most weight-loss interventions for children and people with eating disorders include a focus on self-esteem, but it’s not standard for adult weight-loss programs.
Self-esteem is important because when adults don’t feel good about themselves, there may be less incentive for implementing behavioral changes in the home environment.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity (Emery et al., 2015).
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