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Positive Reinforcement Is Effective for Weight Loss

Positive Reinforcement Is Effective for Weight Loss

The idea that, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” has been around since biblical times (the phrasing there -- “Those who are not for us are against us”) and is echoed in today’s climate change protests. We think the sentiment also applies to how you react to folks around you who are part of the current obesity epidemic.

Research shows discrimination against overweight and obese people is very common; the bigger a person’s waistline, the bigger the prejudice. Bias leads to fewer social and employment opportunities, lower wages and exaggeration of health problems. Some overweight people are reluctant to have medical exams and some healthcare professionals are reluctant to address weight issues unless the patient brings them up. Clearly, if you discriminate against someone who is overweight or obese in the workplace, the mall or on the playground -- that makes you part of the problem.

To be part of the solution, the most effective approach is to use positive reinforcement -- whether you’re dealing with family members, friends or colleagues who are overweight. Make an effort to help the person adopt a positive vision of him or herself and offer support for efforts to improve health.

At Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center, positive reinforcement is the heart of stress-reduction, diabetes management, weight-loss and heart health programs. Setting realistic goals; listening to each person’s concerns; building teamwork and emotional support: Those are the keys to helping people achieve a more positive self-image, a healthy weight and a younger RealAge.  

Medically reviewed in February 2019.

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