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Can you 'train' yourself to have more willpower?
Date:1/24/2013

role of self-control in a behavioral weight loss treatment program. The first study involved 40 individuals participating in a six-month behavioral weight loss intervention. The intervention included weekly sessions led by dietitians, exercise physiologists and/or behavioral psychologists, as well as private weigh-ins. All participants were given a reduced calorie, low-fat diet; a physical activity prescription aimed at increasing their activity minutes; and instruction in behavior change strategies, such as relapse prevention.

At the end of the session, researchers tested participants' global self-control with a handgrip task, a commonly used tool that measures how long participants can hold onto and squeeze a handgrip. During the task, participants experience "aversive stimuli," such as cramping, pain and discomfort, and have to override the desire to end the uncomfortable task in order to achieve their goal, which was to squeeze the grip at a certain intensity level for as long as possible.

The second study extended the findings of the first by examining whether changes in self-control were associated with treatment adherence and weight loss outcomes. Twenty-three participants enrolled in a six-month behavioral weight loss program similar to that in the first study, and completed the same objective measure of self-control this time at both pre- and post-treatment.

Researchers found that participants in both studies who achieved a 10 percent weight loss which can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses linked to obesity had greater self-control compared to those who did not achieve such a weight loss.

Also, individuals in the second study who demonstrated increases in self-control from pre- to post-treatment achieved a significantly higher weight loss, attended more group meetings, engaged in more minutes of physical activity and ate a healthier diet.

"Our findings suggest that self-control
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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