Target Weight and Emotions




When does a “healthy weight” target become akin to aggressive treatment?


If we look at the two extremes of disordered eating, anorexia and morbid obesity, and we focus entirely on achieving a target weight we might miss other concerns that need to be addressed.


Is the client completely in agreement with the target weight, is there any emotional buy-in?


Also, do you calculate a target weight on the basis of BMI? (We discussed BMI in a previous post).


Treatment centres for eating disorders use weight target ranges to allow for more flexibility. Sometimes it is advisable to agree a target weight with a patient, but in some cases of anorexia nervosa it is important not to set a target weight to avoid triggering obsessive behaviours.


If achieving the target weight was the only criterion to discharge a disordered eating patient, it would not address other psychological factors. Controlling weight can be compared to a sport for people who spend most of their time counting calories. If achieving a target weight means not having to be in treatment anymore, a patient may seem to be compliant with the treatment plan only because they want to be discharged. Previous disordered eating behaviours may then reappear and relapse may be inevitable.


This is why a holistic psychological approach like what we do at WeightMatters is vital to give patients a better chance of recovery.