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Similarities between Eating Disorders and Obesity

By Matthew Franks


This thesis examines the evidence base for psychological interventions for the treatment and prevention of eating disorders and obesity. The research process has three strands.\ud Self-Contained Literature Review\ud This paper considers the literature base for the treatment and prevention of eating disorders through critical appraisal of studies which employed a randomised controlled trial design. The results suggest that the psychopathology of eating disorders is complex and that presentations across diagnoses are variable. The review argues that treatment decisions should not be based on diagnosis alone but on the underlying psychological features of clients who present for treatment through initial screening.\ud Research Report\ud The second strand examines the hypothesis that some of the theories underlying eating disorders may also apply to individuals seeking treatment for obesity by comparing a sample of treatment-seeking obese adults to a sample with eating disorders, and to other group norms. Treatment seeking obese adults in this study were similar to eating disordered populations on measures of external shame, weight concern and shape concern, factors which are believed to be associated with an increased risk of developing an eating disorder.\ud It is suggested that obese clients presenting for weight loss intervention should be screened for levels of shame and eating disordered thoughts and behaviours prior to embarking upon treatment. It is further suggested that for those individuals displaying high levels of shame and eating disordered beliefs/ behaviours, interventions targeting reduction of these constructs by increasing levels of self-compassion may enable some obese clients to lose weight whilst improving psychological wellbeing. It is hypothesised that in contrast to dieting, this may lead to more sustained weight loss and avenues for further investigation of these ideas are considered.\ud Critical Appraisal\ud The research process is considered and learning points discussed in this reflective piece

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
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