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J Psychosom Res. 2009 Apr;66(4):287-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.09.003. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

A consultation with genetic information about obesity decreases self-blame about eating and leads to realistic weight loss goals in obese individuals.

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Psychology Department, Marburg University, Marburg, Germany.



This study tested the effects of a consultation using genetic information about obesity on attitudes relating to weight loss goals, self-blame about eating, and weight-related coping in obese individuals. Furthermore, the study sought to explore possible predictors for weight gain/loss.


A total of 411 obese individuals were randomly assigned to two standardized consultations, with and without genetic information about obesity, and a control group without any intervention. After a 6-month follow-up, 253 obese individuals of the intervention groups and 98 individuals of the control group had a complete dataset. Data were analyzed regarding the independent variables assessment time, treatment group, and the familial predisposition (at least one obese parent or sibling). As dependent measures, attitudes about weight loss goals, weight-related self-blame, coping, and body shame were assessed via questionnaire or interview.


Individuals with and without a familial predisposition profited in different ways from a consultation using genetic information about obesity: at follow-up, individuals with a familial predisposition reported mainly a relieving effect (less self-blame about eating). Both groups reported an adjustment to more realistic weight loss goals and a greater satisfaction with a 5% weight loss. Furthermore, the more negative obese individuals felt about their current weight at baseline, the higher the risk that these individuals had gained weight at follow-up.


A consultation focusing on genetic factors might be helpful for obese individuals regardless of their familial predisposition, but only predisposed individuals showed a decrease in self-blame about eating. Negative thoughts and feelings about current weight might predict future weight gain.

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