Brain could hold the key to weight loss

Treadmills are great and healthy eating is a no-brainer.

But Western Sydney University researchers believe the brain could also play a vital part in not only helping people shed those kilos, but also stop them from putting the weight back on.

Statistics released earlier this year painted an even grimmer picture and revealed Campbelltown was one of the unhealthiest areas in Sydney when it came to cardiovascular disease and body mass index related deaths.

Macarthur local and president of the NSW Australian Medical Association, Brad Frankum, said even he was concerned “obesity had become acceptable”

But now some of those Campbelltonians considered obese are being offered a leg up by signing up for the study that will focus on psychological aspects of losing weight.

As a sweetener those who sign up will have free access to a psychologist once a week for two months.

Psychologist and university researcher officer Alice Horne said preliminary studies had shown altering the way of thinking had been effective for people wanting to lose weight.

“Current general weight loss treatments are effective only in the short term,” she said.

“We believe this is because they do not target the psychological barriers that get in the way for people trying to lose weight.

“By conducting this study, our aim is to help support people to learn strategies they can use in their everyday life to improve their health, lose weight or maintain weight over a greater length of time.”

Those who want to get involved in the study must be aged between 18 and 55 with a body mass index of 30 or higher.

Participants will also be required to to attend free weekly psychologist sessions for two months followed by group weight loss sessions once a week for three months.

The head of the university’s eating disorders and obesity psychology research clinic, Dr Evelyn Smith, said she believed the program would give participants the “best opportunity for success”.

“Recent estimates suggest that more than half of the Australian population is overweight or obese, and around 80 per cent of people who lose weight by dieting regain the majority of it back after one year,” she said.

“Our research is hoping to improve these outcomes.”



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