Better memory equals shedding Holiday weight

Special to the Parade

Whether you are worried about keeping off the pounds during the holidays or getting a head start on your 2012 weight loss resolution, the answer may be simple… tie a string around your finger.

The better your memory and other thinking skills, the better your chances of losing weight and keeping it off.

According to a new study led by Dr. John Gunstad, associate professor of psychology at Kent State University, memory and other mental abilities clearly influence the amount of weight people lose.

“The results of our latest study* indicate that better performance on tests of memory and executive function is linked to greater weight loss in persons who have weight loss surgery,” said Dr. Gunstad. “We believe this effect comes from a better ability to stick to the diet and exercise habits that promote weight loss. But, these findings should not be misinterpreted to indicate that cognitive impairment automatically leads to negative outcomes. Instead, it might encourage cognitive screening to help identify those people who might benefit from additional support to help them reach their weight loss goals.”

In short, if you plan to lose weight and keep the pounds at bay, you need a plan and helpful reminders to stay on track. After talking with your doctor to identify the best weight loss plan for you, using strategies such as planning your meals well in advance or using alerts on your smartphone might make a big difference.

“Some people appear to have a better ability than others to keep themselves on task,” said Dr. Gunstad. “Fortunately, a little planning can help those of use that have a harder time doing so still achieve our weight loss goals.”

Editor’s Note: These findings will appear in an upcoming issue of “Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.” John Gunstad, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Kent State University Department of Psychology. With specialties in neuropsychology and health, Dr. Gunstad conducts research that examines two broad areas: 1) the effects of aging and disease on neurocognitive function, with a particular interest in cardiovascular disease and obesity; and 2) acute factors that affect neuropsychological functioning, including environmental stressors.

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