A virtual coach can help emotional eaters in the fight against obesity. That is the opinion of Aranka Dol, researcher at the Digital Transformation professorship at the University of Twente. She will soon receive her PhD on this subject.
According to Dol, there are several reasons why virtual coaching, via an app on the smartphone, is suitable for emotional eating. The first reason is that emotional eaters are often very ashamed and therefore do not dare to seek professional help. The second reason is that general practitioners do not always recognize the problem of emotional eating. The third reason is the shortage of manpower in healthcare and the long waiting lists. With virtual coaching, emotional eaters can more easily take the first step towards guidance themselves.
A test version of the app has been developed, partly with the help of students of Nutrition and Dietetics, ICT and psychology. During the study, participants were classified based on their emotion regulation skills. Online exercises were used to improve these skills. The target group appeared to benefit from using the smartphone app. Dol: ‘The purpose of the app is not to cure people of overweight and obesity, but to make them aware of emotional eating. The ultimate goal is to seek professional care, if that proves necessary.” Dol also wants more understanding and respect for emotional eaters.
Emotional eating is an important factor in obesity
According to Dol, emotional eating plays a significant role in approximately 40 percent of overweight people. According to Dol, current treatments for obesity are usually not aimed at learning to deal with emotional eating behavior: ‘I was outraged by the fact that people undergo surgery to get rid of their obesity. Because nothing is being done about the possible cause.’ After promoting Dol, she will further develop and market the app. The thesis can be read here.
Source: Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen