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Food for thought: A controlled trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of food cravings

Citation (APA Style): Stapleton, P., Bannatyne, A., Porter, B., Urzi, K.C., & Sheldon, T. (2016). Food for thought: A randomised controlled trial of emotional freedom techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of food cravings. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 8(2), 232–257. doi:10.1111/aphw.12070

Abstract

Addressing the internal determinants of dysfunctional eating behaviours (e.g., food cravings) in the prevention and treatment of obesity has been increasingly recognised. This study compared Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for food cravings in adults who were overweight or obese (N = 83) in an 8-week intervention. Outcome data was collected at baseline, post-intervention, and at six and 12-months follow-up. Overall, EFT and CBT demonstrated comparable efficacy in reducing food cravings, one’s responsiveness to food in the environment (power of food), and dietary restraint, with Cohen’s effect size values suggesting moderate to high practical significance for both interventions. Results also revealed both EFT and CBT are capable of producing treatment effects that are clinically meaningful, with reductions in food cravings, the power of food, and dietary restraint normalising to the scores of a non-clinical community sample. While reductions in BMI were not observed, the current study supports the suggestion psychological interventions are beneficial for food cravings and both CBT and EFT could serve as vital adjunct tools in a multidisciplinary approach to managing obesity.

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