Healthy weight may be all in the mind for young women

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“Traditionally obesity has been addressed using medical treatments such as surgery or medication. However, there is now strong evidence to show the effectiveness of psychological treatments in tackling this problem,” says Amanda Gordon, President of the Australian Psychological Society.

Gordon’s comments are in light of research that shows that young women between 18 and 35 are gaining weight more quickly than any other age group. Given its association with serious illnesses for women including gestational diabetes, obesity is a major health concern.

Gordon says young obese women, not typically the focus of weight management programs, could benefit from psychological treatment in helping to reach a healthy weight.

“A number of studies have shown that psychological treatment is effective in managing binge eating and over eating and has been shown in some cases to be more effective than medical treatments. Recent research has found that various diets achieve similar results over a year. The best predictor of weight loss was not which diet a person followed but whether they stuck to it. This is really a question of helping young women to get and stay motivated".

According to Gordon, psychological treatment helps to increase motivation to adhere to diet and exercise programs and to address issues related to self-esteem. “The rewards of even a small weight loss can be enormous for the individual both physically, in terms of reducing the risk of serious disease, and emotionally, with increasing community participation leading to social rewards. In addition, psychological interventions that reduce chronic illness help to lessen the burden of cost to the community.”

“Because obesity is a difficult condition to treat, we believe that a combination of treatments, including psychological intervention, may be the best option,” says Gordon.

In the lead up to National Psychology Week (12 – 18 November 2006) the APS is conducting research into how people go about changing their health behaviour. To complete the research survey visit:


For more information contact:

Clare Johnstone
Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3301 or