Oral Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting

Invited talk: Executive dysfunction in obese individuals (#7)

Evelyn Smith 1
  1. Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia

Research has indicated that individuals with obesity have neurocognitive deficits, especially in executive function, which may in turn impact on weight loss and maintenance. In this talk I will review the evidence of this relationship, highlighting some of the mechanisms, and limitations of the literature. I will then present data on our latest randomized controlled trial which examined efficacy of a manualized cognitive remediation therapy for obesity (CRT-O) in terms of improving executive function, reducing binge eating behaviour and helping with weight loss. 80 adults with obesity (body mass index >30 kg/m2), 70% binge eaters, received three weekly sessions of group Behavioral Weight Loss (BWL) and then were randomized to 8 sessions of individual CRT-O or to a no-treatment control group. Mixed-effects model analyses revealed that the CRT-O group had a significant improvement in executive function at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up compared to the control group (Cohen’s d = 0.96 to 2.1). 68% of those in the CRT-O group achieved a weight loss of 5% or more at follow-up compared to only 15% of the controls. Individuals in the CRT-O group lost on average 6.6% of the weight at 3 month follow up (Cohen’s d = 1.4). Changes in executive function predicted changes in weight (p< .05). Binge eating reduced in the CRT-O group compared to the control (Cohen’s d = 0.80).  CRT-O seems to be a promising treatment for obesity and binge eating. CRT-O studies with longer follow-ups, pairing it with longer BWL programs and examining the mechanisms are currently underway in Australia and Germany.