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Predictors of post-treatment weight reduction after in-patient behavioral therapy


OBJECTIVE: The goal of the present study was to identify covariates and predictors of post-treatment weight reduction. To clarify the impact of the individual factors, we compared ‘winners’ (losing more than 2 BMI-points in the follow-up period) with ‘losers’ (gaining more than 2 BMI-points in the same time).

DESIGN: In a questionnaire based study, we evaluated the psychological impact on eating behavior, general psychopathology and depressive symptoms at three points in time: three months prior to admission (T0), at the beginning (T1) and at the end of in-patient treatment (T2) as well as 6, 12, and 18 months after treatment (T3–T5).

SUBJECTS: One hundred and thirty eight obese patients (BMI<30 kg/m2) were recruited to the study. All patients participated in a multimodal in-patient treatment program over a period of 10 weeks. Treatment elements were cognitive behavioral therapy, movement therapy, and nutritional counseling. The aim of treatment was to regulate food intake, to minimize dysfunctional emotional influences on eating behavior, to enhance physical exercise and to treat comorbid psychiatric disorders. Twenty nine patients (13%) of the initial sample dropped out or were excluded during the treatment and post-treatment period.

RESULTS: During in-patient treatment eating behavior improved and body weight decreased considerably in all patients. The weight reduction continued slightly in the follow-up period. Moreover, general psychopathology, depressive symptoms and eating behavior improved and remained stable during follow-up. These benefits were closely related to weight reduction. Neither eating behavior, nor eating related cognition nor psychopathology measured at T0 and T1 predicted long term success at T5. ‘Winners’ as compared to ‘losers’ at follow-up showed less psychopathology, less depressive symptoms and a less disturbed eating behavior. Already at discharge (T2), winners were less prone to eating triggered by external stimuli and reported fewer feelings of hunger. These differences predicted post-treatment weight reduction (T3–T5).

CONCLUSION: Reported feelings of hunger and the tendency to disinhibited eating behavior measured at discharge were able to predict post-treatment weight reduction in our sample. Patients suffering from a feeling of hunger during in-patient treatment were less likely to show further weight reduction in the follow-up period. Similarly, reduction of ‘disinhibition’ during treatment is a precondition for post-treatment weight loss.

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Correspondence to U Cuntz.

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Cuntz, U., Leibbrand, R., Ehrig, C. et al. Predictors of post-treatment weight reduction after in-patient behavioral therapy. Int J Obes 25 (Suppl 1), S99–S101 (2001).

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  • obesity
  • cognitive-behavioral treatment
  • weight loss
  • therapy outcome
  • psychopathology
  • disordered eating
  • disinhibition
  • predictors

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