According to researchers, feeling good about yourself rather than being critical of your flaws can enhance the effectiveness of weight-loss programs based on diet and exercise.
Lead researcher, Dr Pedro Teixeira from the Technical University of Lisbon, said, "Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight.”
239 overweight women studied
In a bid to determine whether a better body image can motivate weight loss, the researchers conducted a study.
They enrolled 239 overweight women aged 25-50 who had an average body mass index (BMI) of 31.5 in a year long weight-loss programme.
As a part of the study, the participants were split into the ‘intervention' and 'control' group.
All the study subjects were given information pertaining to nutrition, stress management, and self-care.
In addition, the intervention group underwent 30 weekly group sessions that addressed issues like physical activity, emotional eating, and improving body image.
Also, measures to recognize and overcome personal barriers to weight loss and diet lapses were discussed.
Revelations of the study
At the close of the study, the investigators found women in the intervention group perceived their body image in a positive light.
They were able to self regulate their eating habits better. Moreover, women in this group lost an average seven percent of their body weight while those in the control group shed less than two percent.
Teixeira stated, "Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other people's opinions, and positive changes in eating behavior.
"From this we believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control program."
The findings have been published by BioMed Central’s open access journal 'International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.'