The best therapy for weight loss involves treating both obesity and depression, research finds.
People lose more weight when they are treated in an integrated way than if they are treated ‘as normal’ by their physician, the study revealed.
Part of the integrated treatment involves seeing a counsellor and a health coach.
Integrated treatment also reduced depression, which ‘as normal’ treatment did not.
Depression and obesity often occur together.
Over 40 percent of people with depression are obese; obesity is also a risk factor for developing depression.
Usually the two conditions are treated separately, involving multiple appointments that may increase the risk of dropping out altogether.
Professor Jun Ma, the study’s first author, said:
“Treatments exist that are effective at treating obesity and depression separately, but none that address both conditions in concert, which is a critical unmet need because of the high prevalence of obesity and depression together.
We have shown that delivering obesity and depression therapy in one integrated program using dually trained health coaches who work within a care team that includes a primary care physician and a psychiatrist, is effective at reducing weight and improving depressive symptoms.”
The study included 409 people with depression who were also obese.
Half of the people in the study were treated as normal by their physician.
This involved being given information on standard health care services for obesity and depression in the clinic.
The other group, though, were given integrated care that involved nine counselling sessions, a health coach and information on living a healthy lifestyle.
The results showed that people receiving integrated care lost 6 pounds in comparison to no weight loss in the comparison group.
The group receiving integrated care also saw reductions in depression, which the control group did not experience.
Professor Ma said:
“For patients, this approach is an attractive alternative to seeing multiple practitioners each charging for their services as is done traditionally.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the JAMA (Ma et al., 2019).