Kelly Webber, associate professor in the University of Kentucky's Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, compared the effectiveness of an intuitive eating-based intervention to a stress management-based intervention, developed at the University of California, San Francisco.
"With weight loss we know that if you count calories and exercise you will lose weight, however a large percentage of people tend to regain that weight," Webber said in a statement. "I wanted to explore a couple of new avenues for producing lasting weight loss."
The intuitive eating intervention required people to regularly pay attention to their bodies and their hunger and fullness signals, or eat only when hungry and until they are full, Webber said.
The pilot study involved 26 participants from the Lexington, Ky., area, who were divided into two groups. The groups met either with Webber or a certified trainer in the stress management intervention for 75 minutes twice a week for seven weeks.
The study found participants in the stress management intervention lost as much as 17 pounds during the time period and, on average, saw a significant decrease in blood pressure, while participants in the intuitive eating intervention did not lose a significant amount of weight. The weight loss held up at a 14-week follow-up, Webber said.
"So many people in my weight loss studies, myself included, say 'I'm a stress eater or I'm an emotional eater,' and this stress management based intervention seems to be getting at the root of the problem," Webber said. "It's the very beginning of my exploration of this, but it's very encouraging."