Dawson Church, PhD; Peta Stapleton, PhD; Danielle Raynor
Context • With obesity a mounting global issue, efficacious treatments can make a contribution to both personal and public health. Prior clinical trials have demonstrated that an evidence-based method, Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), can produce a durable weight reduction.
Objective • The study evaluated whether Skinny Genes, a six-week online program applying EFT to emotional eating, was associated with behavioral change and reductions in weight.
Design • A pre-post outcome study design evaluated the results of a convenience sample of participants enrolled in an online weight loss course.
Participants • Participant were recruited through EFT websites. Pre, post and follow-up measures were available for 72 participants and all analysis was performed on this sample.
Intervention • Participants used EFT to address cognitions, behaviors, and adverse experiences that could contribute to binge eating, intermittent dieting, and resistance to exercise.
Outcome Measures • Behaviors to restrain eating were measured using the Revised Restraint Scale (RRS); the association of food with reward using the Power of Food Scale (PFS); anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Weight was measured pre and postintervention and at six-month follow-up.
Results • Postintervention, a 36.8% reduction in anxiety (P < .001) and a 48.5% reduction in depression (P < .001) were found. The perceived power of food decreased significantly as did restraint behaviors. Participants lost an average of 12.9 lbs during the six weeks of the program (P < .001), and at follow-up, a further 2.6 lbs. All psychological gains were maintained (P < .001).
Conclusions • The findings are consistent with those of other clinical trials studying the benefits of EFT for weight loss, demonstrating simultaneous reductions in both weight and psychological distress. The continued weight reduction found on follow-up was consistent with other EFT studies but counter to the pattern of weight regain noted in the literature. Addressing emotional issues using an online delivery format was associated with durable weight-loss maintenance as well as improved mental health. App-based and virtual programs such as Skinny Genes have the potential to bring effective therapies to underserved populations. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2021;36(1):13-21.)