December 1, 2005

Emotional Well Being Plays Role in Weight Loss

APA provides tips for managing weight-loss resolutions

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association (APA) today released strategies to help Americans battle the bulge this holiday season and throughout the New Year. Psychologists say the answer to losing weight successfully is to address what’s behind unhealthy behaviors contributing to weight gain.

“It’s important to take care of both your mind and body. Therefore, you have to pay attention to your emotional health, just as you have to pay attention to your physical health,” says Rosemary Schwartzbard, Ph.D., a member of APA and an ACE certified personal trainer.

About one-third of the population is obese; and more than 60% of us are overweight. According to APA, understanding the interaction between the mind and the body can help people to address obesity and weight loss issues. Stress and other emotions or psychological states can often lead people to over-eat and exercise less, affecting physical health over the long-term.

Research shows that 20 percent of Americans are worried that stress will affect their health, yet 36 percent say they deal with stress by eating or drinking alcohol. While these behaviors may reduce stress in the short run, they contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle that can negatively affect your body.

“Achieving a healthy lifestyle comes from adopting behaviors over time that help to manage stress in effective ways that don’t at the same time take a toll on your physical health and body,” says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., APA executive director for professional practice.

Psychologists say it’s important to first identify stressors that may trigger unhealthy behaviors like overeating, and then identify healthy behaviors to manage stress and emotions. This New Year, APA recommends the following tips to help manage weight-loss resolutions:

  • Think about what you eat and why — Track your eating habits and your emotions to reveal patterns in your behaviors.

  • Seek support — Losing weight and managing psychological health is always easier with support from friends and family.

  • Don’t obsess over “bad days” — If your discipline breaks, examine the emotions that may have led you to overeat rather than losing motivation.

For more information about mind/body health and stress management, please contact Luana Bossolo at
(202) 336-5899 or visit APA’s Help Center. To download APA’s pre-packaged news segment on holiday stress management or to capture holiday stress sound bites, please visit the APA Press Room.