Behavior therapy: losing weight without exercise and diet | Knowledge & Environment | DW


who with Fighting overweight knows how difficult it is to lose the extra pounds: Sport is exhausting and diets often only bring short-term success. You’ve just starved yourself off a few kilos, and they come back after a short time. Severe overweight, i.e. obesity, impairs the quality of life and shortens the life expectancy of those affected.

The Osijek general practitioners Mario Ćurković and Dražen Gorjanski report successes. They have already helped around 130 overweight patients to significantly reduce their excess weight.

The two doctors do not just prescribe a therapy or diet, but take care of the patients with several approaches, because Ćurković and Gorjanski see obesity as a complex but curable disease. Doctors call their method “Osijek Weight Loss Program POST” (Program Osječkog Smanjivanja Težine), and they themselves were surprised by the success of behavioral therapy.

Complex communication pathways of the body

Human physiology is by no means easy to understand, emphasizes Goranjski. And because it’s so complex, many things play into each other when it comes to obesity. Therefore, obesity must be treated as a multidisciplinary disease.

“Like any disease, obesity has its causes, treatment and cure,” says the doctor. “In our body there is a system for maintaining a constant weight, the homeostatic system. It relies on the communication between the digestive system and the brain center for hunger, satiety and pleasure”.

Most healthy people eat normally, when they get hungry. and they eat what they have an appetite for but do not increase as a result. “However, today’s way of life, with a wide range of unhealthy food and eating too often, disrupts the communication between the digestive system and the brain,” says Gorjanski.

dr  Mario Curkovic and Dr.  Drazen Gorjanski, doctors from Osijek

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Mario Ćurković and Dražen Gorjanski want to make their behavior therapy known and help others.

And this to rebalance communication is the goal of POST therapy. “Through autogenic training, meditation, digestive system recovery, and occasional fasting, we’re actually remodeling both the digestive and homeostatic systems and how they communicate,” says the doctor. “The guiding idea is that this will restore the normal functioning of the systems present in our body.”

Dispelling myths about obesity

The two doctors addressed several myths about obesity when developing their therapy, for example that one can only lose weight through diet in connection with exercise, according to the motto “eat less – move more”. Sport and exercise are of course good and healthy, but none of the patients have to go to extreme lengths for the therapy. Doctors also don’t make their patients count calories or follow strict diets.

Rather, it is about gradually weaning yourself off the appetite over time. In a way, the therapy continues to reset this stimulus until the brain only triggers it when the body really needs supplies, i.e. when it is hungry.

“A person can self-regulate without physical training,” says Ćurković, “we should aim for physical healing and not losing pounds.” If the regulation is right again, weight loss can follow as a result: “If the calorie intake is reduced, weight loss results can be achieved.”

Learn to listen to your body

The program consists of courses held once a week for six months. The patients should lose about 15 to 20 kilograms during this time. But some have also come to 40 kilograms.

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It is important for the doctors to emphasize that the personally achieved weight loss is not an indicator of the effectiveness of their method. The only thing that is important is the balance in the communication between the stomach and the brain.

A behavior therapy participant shows a certificate with a weight history showing how much weight he has lost.  To the right, the doctor Drazen Gorjanski.

A healthy feeling of hunger is more important than just the kilos. A patient shows his weight loss diploma.

The 130 patients who have undergone POST therapy so far make the doctors confident about the scientific validity of their method. The two doctors are currently working on a scientific study on this.

Comparisons with other behavior programs

A similar therapy program existed in the USA before the corona pandemic Trevose Behavior Modification Program (TBMP). In some cases, this achieved even better results than POST, the two Croatian doctors admit. However, this program…

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