Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyObesity

Cognitive therapy and weight reduction

How might cognitive therapy assist?

According to Dr. Judith Beck, who is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, people trying to lose weight need to “decrease their fear of hunger and cravings and increase their tolerance for these uncomfortable states.”

In addition, “they need to learn how to identify and respond to dysfunctional thoughts that get in the way of their consistently implementing their diet and exercise programs.”

You can read the rest of the interview here.

In addition, she references this study to support her point of view.

From the Section of Psychiatry at the Karolinska Institutet at Huddinge University Hospital in Stockholm, 105 obese (BMI at least 30) people received short term, 10-weeks (30 hours) of cognitive treatment or a wait list control group.

And the results.

  • 92% of the cognitive therapy group completed treatment.
  • The average weight loss in the 60% of people who participated in the study for 18 months was 10.4 kg (about 23 pounds).
  • The people in the control group had an increase in weight by 2.3 kg (5 pounds).
  • The difference was significant.

The 92% completion rate is good, but I don’t know what happened to the 40% of those who received cognitive therapy but were not evaluated at 18 months.

The bottom line?
As part of a more comprehensive program the challenge would be to find a therapist who can apply cognitive skills to weight loss therapy.

5/1/07 20:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.