Australian scientists say they’ve pinned down some of the psychological traits that help people lose weight, and keep it off.
Their study of more than 200 individuals who had attempted to lose weight in the previous year, found that people who succeeded were more positive and hopeful.
The study also found that people who succeeded were more engaged in diet, exercise and self-weighing, than those who struggled to get in shape.
However, the findings in this research have already been pushed in previous messages from the Cook Islands Ministry of Health.
The Cook Islands was recently dubbed the fattest nation in the world, and director of Community Services, Neti Herman was sceptical about the title.
With a preconception of this new research, Herman told CI News that such negative connotations might make things worse rather than help anyone.
“We do have a problem with obesity and non-communicable diseases in the Cook Islands, that is not doubted, but instead of focusing in the negative, we should focus on the positive,” Herman said.
According to the research paper, weight loss maintenance is a complex and enduring problem.
Author, Sharon Robertson of the University of Adelaide, says a substantial amount of research and subsequent treatments have been based on behavioural and medical interventions with limited success.
“Much less is known regarding reliable psychological predictors of successful weight maintenance, especially those related to the field of Positive Psychology that aims to improve health and happiness,” she says in her report.
The participants were 250 Australian residents, aged between 18-65 years, who had attempted to lose weight over the last 12 months.
An online survey method recorded satisfaction with life, positive and negative effect, gratitude, flourishing, strengths and hope.
Robertson says their results did show that maintainers scored more highly on motivation and had more frequent positive moods, but she adds that it’s what they didn’t find that is also of interest.
“The weight-maintainers were just as dissatisfied with their current weight and their quality of life, leading us to wonder that perhaps for some people, even the physical health improvements associated with modest weight loss aren’t enough to keep people happy and motivated.”
She says if this is the case then perhaps this helps to explain why relapse rates for weight maintenance programs are so high.
So, she says it’s possible that for some people instead of weight loss leading to happiness, improving happiness may lead to weight loss.
“We believe that positive psychology may have an important role to play, in treatments targeting weight management.”