Loving your body can help you lose three times more weight if you’re on a diet.
Being overweight and disliking your body can encourage comfort eating and rigid eating patterns which just contribute to the problem.
One in four people are overweight, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and can shorten life expectancy.
A new year-long study of overweight and obese women has shown that when the women changed from disliking their bodies they were better able to regulate their eating and lost more weight.
The women in the study were divided into two groups. One half were given general health information about nutrition, stress management and the importance of looking after yourself.
The second group attended weekly sessions to help them improve their body image, overcome personal barriers to weight loss and the kind of difficulties that made them lapse from a diet.
The second group lost on average 7pc of their starting weight compared to less than 2pc for the other group.
Dr Teixeira from Technical University of Lisbon, who led the research, 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.
“Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples’ 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 results of the study – carried out that the Bangor University in Wales and the University of Lisbon – are published by BioMed Central’s open access journal International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.