stress, sleep and weight loss

How stress level and sleep time can influence your weightloss success

Success at losing weight may depend on how much sleep a patient gets and how much stress they are under, according to results of an intensive, six-month weight loss intervention program. That's according to a study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. It found that, over the six-month period, weight loss correlated with lowering of stress and getting adequate sleep.

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To explore the connections between such factors and success in a structured weight-loss program, 472 participants were enrolled in a two-part clinical trial.

Phase one of the study was an intensive weight-loss program in which participants were encouraged to consume 500 fewer calories each day, eating primarily vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products. They were also asked to engage in physical exercise for at least three hours each week.

Participants attended 22 behavioral and counseling sessions over the course of six months, setting goals and addressing barriers, and kept records of daily food consumption and exercise.

Average weight loss during the first phase of the trial was 13.9 pounds, and 60% of the participants lost at least 10 pounds, which was the cutoff for eligibility into the second phase of the trial.

Phase two analyzed the connection between sleep and weight loss. Success in achieving weight loss goals was more likely among those who slept between six and eight hours each night.

Further analysis found significant connections between weight loss and decrease in stress levels.

"Recent research suggests that chronic stress results in an increased intake of energy-and nutrient-dense foods, and that hormonal reactions to stressors may be tightly intertwined with regulation of appetite," the researchers explained.

The findings of this study, according to the researchers, also suggest that assessing stress levels in individuals trying to lose weight might identify those who might need extra counseling and other assistance.

  • Participants in this weight loss study were more successful if they slept between six and eight hours a night and had less stress.
  • Exercise and caloric reduction were also important components of the weight-loss program.
  • Neither level of depression nor amount of time spent in front of the TV or computer were found to be good predictors of weight loss.

From the Research Desk...

Lifestyle changes effective treatment for mental health disorders
alternative therapies for mental disease

Irvine, California - Certain lifestyle changes can be as effective as drugs or counseling in treating certain mental health conditions, it was reported in American Psychologist.

Researcher Roger Walsh, M.D., PhD. of the University of California, Irvine's College of Medicine, reviewed research on what he terms "therapeutic lifestyle changes," which include exercise, nutrition and diet, relationships, recreation, relaxation and stress management, religious or spiritual involvement, spending time in nature and service to others.

He wrote that mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, can be treated with lifestyle changes just as successfully as diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

He reported that the difficulty of using lifestyle changes therapeutically comes from the long-term effort they require, people's expectations that healing comes from a pill or outside authority, and the constant advertisement of unhealthy lifestyles.

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