Multistep cognitive behavioral therapy for obesity (CBT-OB) is a treatment that may be delivered at three levels of care (outpatient, day hospital, and residential). In a stepped-care approach, CBT-OB associates the traditional procedures of weight-loss lifestyle modification, ie, physical activity and dietary recommendations, with specific cognitive behavioral strategies that have been indicated by recent research to influence weight loss and maintenance by addressing specific cognitive processes. The treatment program as a whole is delivered in six modules. These are introduced according to the individual patient's needs in a flexible and personalized fashion. A recent randomized controlled trial has found that 88 patients suffering from morbid obesity treated with multistep residential CBT-OB achieved a mean weight loss of 15% after 12 months, with no tendency to regain weight between months 6 and 12. The treatment has also shown promising long-term results in the management of obesity associated with binge-eating disorder. If these encouraging findings are confirmed by the two ongoing outpatient studies (one delivered individually and one in a group setting), this will provide evidence-based support for the potential of multistep CBT-OB to provide a more effective alternative to standard weight-loss lifestyle-modification programs.
Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy; lifestyle modification; obesity; outcome; weight loss; weight maintenance.