Meekums et al. (2012) Dance Movement Therapy for Obese Women with Emotional Eating: A Controlled Pilot Study

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journal article


Bonnie Meekums, Ieva Vaverniece, Indra Majore-Dusele, and Oskars Rasnacs. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2012; Vol. 39, No. 2: pp 126–133.


This study explored the effectiveness of dance movement therapy (DMT) in obese women with emotional eating who were trying to lose weight. 158 women were recruited from a commercial weight loss programme: 92 with BMI ≥ 28 were identified as emotional eaters and divided into: an exercise control (n = 32) and non-exercisers (n = 60). The non-exercises were partially randomised to non exercise control (n = 30) and treatment group (n = 30). Using a pre- and post-intervention design, 24 of the DMT treatment group, 28 of the exercise control and 27 of the non-exercise control completed all measures on a battery of tests for psychological distress, body image distress, self-esteem and emotional eating. Findings were analysed for statistical significance. The DMT group showed statistically decreased psychological distress, decreased body image distress, and increased self-esteem compared to controls. Emotional eating reduced in DMT and exercise groups. The authors cautiously conclude that DMT could form part of a treatment for obese women whose presentation includes emotional eating. Further research is needed with larger, fully, and blindly randomised samples, a group exercise control, longitudinal follow-up, a depression measure, ITT, and cost analyses.


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