Overweight and obesity problems have been associated with emotional eating behaviors, especially stress-related eating (Corsica et al., 2014). Although such problems are critical for weight management, it is not easy to provide effective interventions for improving eating behaviors.
Potential interventions may need to focus on the management of stress and the improvement of thoughts and behaviors associated with emotional eating. Such interventions may include mindfulness-based stress management programs and cognitive-behavioral therapies (Corsica et al., 2014).
A study of 53 overweight subjects (mostly women) with high levels of stress and stress-eating behaviors examined the effects of different interventions that lasted for six weeks (Corsica et al., 2014). One intervention was a modified mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program. Another intervention was a cognitive behavioral stress-eating intervention (SEI). The third program combined the elements from both stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral interventions (SEI).
The study found that perceived stress and stress-eating behaviors were relieved remarkably in all three programs (Corsica et al., 2014). In addition, the combination program covering both stress reduction and cognitive behavioral elements had the most significant effects and led to immediate weight loss. Such effects continued even 6 weeks after the completion of the programs.
These observations support the potential weight loss strategies that aim at both stress-management and the control of stress-eating behaviors. Further studies would be needed to understand the mechanisms of the mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapies for obesity and weight control.
Corsica, J., Hood, M. M., Katterman, S., Kleinman, B., & Ivan, I. (2014). Development of a novel mindfulness and cognitive behavioral intervention for stress-eating: a comparative pilot study. Eating Behaviors, 15(4), 694–9.