Obesity and the Stress Connection: Mind–Body Therapies for Weight Control

  • Steven Gurgevich
  • James P. NicolaiEmail author
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


This chapter addresses the nature in which the stress connection influences obesity and offers ways to use the many mind–body stress management techniques to facilitate weight reduction programs. The dynamics that cause obesity and its effects involve very complex biological, genetic, metabolic, behavioral, emotional, social, and cultural factors. The role and effects of stress on all aspects of obesity are clearly negative. Stress plays a role in potentiating obesity, maintaining obesity, and undermining the obese person’s power to reduce weight. The list of the more common mind–body modalities include visualization, breathwork or breathing exercises, hypnosis and guided imagery, cognitive–behavioral therapy, therapeutic journaling, affirmations and self-talk, meditation, mindfulness techniques, therapeutic social and group support, and mindful exercises like yoga and qiqong. Since stress relief is a natural outcome of using mind–body methods, better-managed stress through the use of these techniques may allow individuals to have greater clarity to articulate and implement therapeutic strategies for weight reduction. The research on mind–body therapies’ effectiveness in treating obesity is in short supply and quite often weak in isolating clear and empirically measurable relationships. Nevertheless, approximately 55 million American adults have used at least one mind–body therapy in the last 12 months according to data generated in 2007. At the present time, there remains a great need for empirical research studies and findings that clarify the application of mind–body therapies to reduce obesity.


Breathwork Breathwalking Clinical hypnosis Guided imagery Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Mindfulness meditation Therapeutic journaling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine , Behavioral Medicine, LtdTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Oro ValleyUSA

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