Cognitive remediation therapy for adults with obesity – a randomized-controlled efficacy study (CRT) (Prof. Dr. Anja Hilbert)

MObese individuals show difficulties in decision-making, planning, problem-solving, and in controlling behaviors. This is called a deficit in executive functioning. These difficulties are associated with a smaller weight loss in the conservative and surgical obesity treatment. Despite the relevance of restricted executive functioning in obesity, the research of this phenomenon has only now begun to develop therapeutic approaches to improve these functions in obese patients. Cognitive remediation therapy comprises mental trainings to improve the executive functions.

The thinking about one’s own thinking is being taught (improvement of meta-cognition), and new cognitive strategies are being developed and tried out in daily life. Cognitive remediation therapy is an established treatment in diverse psychic disorders, e. g. in attention deficit and hyperactivity syndrome. There are indications that cognitive remediation therapy can improve executive functioning and weight loss in obesity. The goal of this study is to test the efficiency of this therapy, which the obese patient undergoes before weight reduction treatment.

Duration: 01.05.2015 – 31.01.2019

Description of research project

Individuals with obesity (i.e. an excess of body fat) show deficits in executive functioning, for example, difficulties in decision-making, planning, problem-solving, inhibition, and flexibility. Recently, these difficulties have been implicated in lesser weight loss outcome in conservative and surgical obesity treatment. Despite the relevance of executive functioning in obesity, research has only begun to develop interventions to specifically improve these functions in this health condition. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT), a well-established treatment approach with a focus on neurocognitive functioning in a range of mental disorders and health disturbances, has preliminary evidence in improving executive functions and weight loss in obesity, however, confirmatory support, especially for preparatory pre-weight loss use, is outstanding. This research project aims at determining, within a randomized-controlled trial, the efficacy of CRT versus no treatment control condition in obese patients enrolled at the IFB Outpatient Unit before entering behavioral weight loss treatment. It is hypothesized that individuals who receive brief group-based CRT will show greater weight loss outcome in subsequent behavioral weight loss treatment, beyond improved executive functioning.


Prof. Dr. Anja Hilbert (Principal Investigator)
Prof. Dr. Mathias Faßhauer
Dr. David Petroff
Dipl.-Psych. Claudia Hübner
Dipl.-Psych. Marie Blume

Prof. Dr. Anja Hilbert

IFB-Professorship "Behavioral medicine"
Member: board of directors, internal board
Head of project

+49 341 97-15361 and -15360

anja [dot] hilbert [at] medizin [dot] uni-leipzig [dot] de

Dipl.-Psych. Marie Blume
Dipl.-Psych. Claudia Hübner