Study: Sleep, relaxation can aid weight loss

NEW YORK — The "battle of the bulge" can be won by adding sleep and relaxation to diet and exercise, according to a new study.

Published in the International Journal of Obesity, a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente researchers found that among 472 obese participants with body mass indexes of 30 to 50, weight loss significantly correlated with decreased stress levels.

Sleep time and lower stress at the start of the six-month weight-loss program — which included 22 group counseling sessions over 26 weeks; reduction of dietary intake by 500 calories a day by following a low-fat, low-sugar diet; and an increase in exercise to at least 180 minutes a week — predicted success. What's more, 60% of participants lost at least 10 lbs. in the first phase of the study and were moved to the second phase, which reviewed weight-loss maintenance. 

Results suggested that clinicians and investigators might consider targeting sleep, depression and stress as part of a behavioral weight-loss intervention, the study authors concluded.