Optimism can inhibit weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New research shows that too much optimism can inhibit weight loss efforts. Psychologists recently explored personality traits of individuals in a weight loss program. They found that people who were highly optimistic when beginning a diet were less likely to be successful.

A team of researchers assessed the psychological profiles of 101 obese patients undergoing a combination nutrition and exercise therapy at the Kansai Medical University Hospital Obesity Clinic. Improved self awareness was facilitated through counseling sessions, and was found to help weight loss efforts – but too many optimistic traits were associated with less success.


The scientists used psychological questionnaires to assess personality traits of obese people entering the 6 month program. The study showed that some negative emotions can have a positive impact on weight loss efforts. A bit of negativity shows that a person probably cares more about being obese.

The study authors say, "It is important to enhance patients' self-effectiveness and self-control in order to reduce psychological stress and to maintain the weight loss. The weight loss should be attributed not simply to the intervention of the clinical psychologists but to the total effect of the intervention of a holistic medical care team."

Programs that take a total approach to weight loss, including counseling to promote behavioral changes are successful. The ultimate goal is to improve optimism and self-awareness in order to succeed. The study showed that too much optimism from the start might inhibit weight loss efforts.

Source: BioMed Central LTD