Testing a new cognitive behavioural treatment for obesity: A randomized controlled trial with three-year follow-up

Zafra Cooper, Helen A Doll, Deborah M. Hawker, Susan Byrne, Gillie Bonner, Elizabeth Eeley, Marianne E. O’Connor, Christopher G. Fairburn

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187 Citations (Scopus)


It is remarkably difficult for people with obesity to maintain a new lower weight following weight loss. The aim of the present study was to examine the immediate and longer-term effects of a new cognitive behavioural treatment that was explicitly designed to minimise this post-treatment weight regain. One hundred and fifty female participants with obesity were randomized to the new treatment, behaviour therapy (the leading alternative psychological treatment) or guided self-help (a minimal intervention). Both of the main treatments resulted in an average weight loss of about ten percent of initial weight whereas weight loss was more modest with guided self-help. The participants were subsequently followed-up for three years post-treatment. The great majority regained almost all the weight that they had lost with the new treatment being no better than the behavioural treatment in preventing weight regain. These findings lend further support to the notion that obesity is resistant to psychological methods of treatment, if anything other than a short-term perspective is taken. It is suggested that it is ethically questionable to claim that psychological treatments for obesity “work” in the absence of data on their longer-term effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-713
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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