Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the treatment of obesity-related stigma and sustained weight loss

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APA Citation: 

Lillis, J. (2008). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the treatment of obesity-related stigma and sustained weight loss. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Nevada, Reno.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
acceptance & commitment therapy; treatment; obesity related stigma; weight control; avoidance patterns; weight related thoughts; bodily sensations

Obesity is a major health epidemic. Well controlled, comprehensive weight loss programs achieve substantial results, however weight is almost always regained over time. Traditional CBT techniques have been used to supplement diet and physical activity with little success in terms of long-term maintenance. In addition, stigma and quality of life can be significantly impaired in overweight and obese individuals, while interventions often lack components to address these problems. The present study sought to evaluate an alternative approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, aimed at targeting patterns of avoidance in regards to weight-related thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. This randomized controlled trial compared a 1 day ACT workshop (n=40) to a no treatment control (n=44) for participants who had completed at least 6 months of a diet and physical activity weight loss program. Results showed significantly better outcomes for the ACT group on weight loss and maintenance, blood pressure, psychological distress, stigma, quality of life, and self-reported physical activity and binge eating at 3 month follow-up. Outcomes were mediated by reduced patterns of experiential avoidance. These results suggest that acceptance-based approaches may prove a valuable, alternative approach to addressing the problem of long-term weight control.

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