Stress management can facilitate weight loss in Greek overweight and obese women: a pilot study

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2013 Jul;26 Suppl 1:132-9. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12086. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


Background: Stress and negative emotions have been shown to be critical factors in inducing overeating as a form of maladaptive coping in obese people.

Methods: The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an 8-week stress management programme that includes progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and diaphragmatic breathing on weight loss and eating behaviour in a sample of overweight and obese women who started a weight-loss programme. A total of 34 women with a mean (SD) body mass index of 38.17 (7.19) kg m(-) ² and mean (SD) age 47.35 (11.64) years were recruited from the outpatients Obesity Clinic of a public hospital in Athens. Participants were randomly assigned into a Stress Management (SM) and a control group. Anthropometric measurements were taken before and after the intervention, and the participants completed the following questionnaires: Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ), Eating Attitudes Test (Eat-26), Health Locus of Control (HLC) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before and after the intervention.

Results: The findings indicated a significant improvement in weight loss in the SM group [4.44 (0.83) kg] after intervention compared to the control group [1.38 (0.78) kg] (P < 0.05). A higher restrained eating behaviour was observed in the SM group after intervention compared to the control group, although there was no significant difference in perceived stress levels.

Conclusions: The intervention group showed greater weight reduction, possibly because of the stress management programme, and a greater dietary restraint was demonstrated by them compared to the control group. It is likely that stress management could facilitate weight loss in obese women; however, more studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Emotions
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / etiology
  • Hyperphagia / psychology
  • Hyperphagia / therapy*
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Meditation
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight
  • Perception
  • Respiration
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Loss*
  • Weight Reduction Programs