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“real talk” about weight loss challenges helps fuel success

Can being “honest” about the challenges of weight loss do more for success rates than motivational words? According to a new study by Drexel University, yes. This study was published the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Conflicting Implications”?

Michael Lowe, Ph.D., a professor at Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, says this study has “conflicting implications” for those trying to lose weight.

On one hand, giving overweight people a realistic sense of the dilemma that they are in and the powerful forces they are up against — including a genetic predisposition toward obesity and an increased susceptibility to many food cues in the environment — may actually promote cognitive restraint over their eating in the short-term,” he said.

But, on the other hand, this message did not motivate participants to make numerous changes to the foods they surround themselves with.”

Home Food Environment Modifications

Lowe and his team theorized that making changes to the home food environment (or HFE) is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off compared to behavioral therapy.

Asking people to make healthy decisions, when there are thousands of food choices available, is both emotionally challenging and also complicated,” Lowe said.

HFE treatment is really about mechanically trying to ensure that these changes are made, so the level of chronic temptation generated by foods in their homes is reduced.”

The research team also continually reminded their HFE study participants about the challenges linked to weight loss.

We said, ‘It’s impressive and encouraging that you are taking this step to improve your weight and health, but we need to help you understand the daunting challenges you’re facing.’”

This was done not to discourage, but to “give them a more realistic sense of how crucial it is for them to make lasting changes in their parts of the food environment that they could control.”

This different type of “encouragement” garnered the best results over the course of this three-year study.
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