Category: Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine - Adult
Obesity is a major public health problem that results in individual health consequences and direct and indirect costs to health care and worker productivity. Traditional CBT interventions are successful in producing weight loss of approximately 7-10%, however participants typically regain about 50% of lost weight within 1 year. An approach that shows promise for improving long-term outcomes is to teach skills based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a new generation cognitive behavioral therapy designed to increase psychological flexibility; or the ability to develop and persist in behaviors consistent with one’s values in the presence of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Preliminary evidence suggests that ACT methods could be helpful with weight management, however ACT has not been tested specifically as a maintenance intervention following a weight loss. This study presents the main outcomes of a randomized controlled trial (N=94) comparing the efficacy of an ACT intervention, a Self-Regulation (SR) intervention, and a control group for weight maintenance.All participants first participated in an initial 3-month standard behavioral weight loss program. Participants were then randomized into 1 of 3 groups to receive a 1-day maintenance workshop: The ACT workshop taught ACT skills including acceptance and mindfulness techniques designed to promote behavior change and health behavior persistence consistent with one’s core values. The SR workshop focused on self-efficacy, self-regulation, regular weighing, and modeling behavior on successful maintainers. The control group received no further intervention. All 3 groups subsequently received minimal, automated contact during the follow-up period. At 12 months, both the ACT (M=-8.18%) and SR (M=-8.59%) groups showed significantly better weight outcomes when compared to the control group (M=-3.80%; F=16.59, p < .001). The results suggest that brief workshop interventions based on ACT and self-regulation theory can improve maintenance following a weight loss intervention.