Objective: This study examined the psychological consequences of a modest weight loss in a sample of healthy women aged 44 to 50.
Method: Five hundred and thirty-five women, with body mass indices (BMIs) ranging from 20 to 34, were randomly assigned either to an intensive behavioral lifestyle intervention or to a no-treatment control group. Women in the lifestyle intervention received weight loss goals of 5 to 15 lb, depending on baseline BMI, and attended 20 weekly group meetings during which they received information on lowering dietary fat intake and increasing physical activity levels. Psychological measures administered at baseline and at a 6-month examination assessed perceived stress, mood, dietary restraint, and binge eating behaviors.
Results: Intervention subjects showed significant decreases in depressive symptoms over time, relative to control subjects, and this effect was observed for normal-weight, as well as heavier, subjects. Binge eating scores for all subjects declined significantly over time, with heavier subjects in the intervention showing the greatest decrease in scores.
Discussion: The current study found no evidence of negative psychological sequelae of participation in a behavioral lifestyle change program, regardless of weight status. Results further suggest that participation in these types of programs may exert a positive influence on the psychological status of both normal-weight and heavier women.