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Title: The role of positive psychology in the treatment of overweight and obesity, and its effects on molecular genetic pathways involved
Author: Rozehnalova, Jana
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 0554
Awarding Body: University of Bolton
Current Institution: University of Bolton
Date of Award: 2018
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Background: Obesity represents a world-wide health problem. As yet, there is no gold standard treatment. Positive psychology (PP) has been successfully applied to psychological disorders and disturbances related to obesity. Research applying PP to address overweight and obesity is lacking. Aims: This research aimed to develop a positive psychological intervention (PPI) for individuals with weight problems and assess its effectiveness on well-being and weight loss in non-clinical populations. Further aims were to identify potential molecular genetic pathways through which the PPI functions, and validate the intervention using OXTR gene expression as a model system. Method: A 6-week PPI for weight management was delivered in two pilot studies (n=38) and a randomised controlled trial (RCT; n=20) to students and staff at an English University. Saliva samples were collected in weekly basis during the intervention sessions and qRT-PCR was used to analyse relative OXTR expression in the samples. Results: Quantitative analyses of the pilot studies revealed significant increases in well-being and decreases in depression and anxiety. RCT findings revealed significant increases in well-being and decreases in anxiety in the intervention group. Differential gene expression analysis using a real time RT-PCR approach revealed significant increases in the OXTR gene expression levels in response to the intervention. Bioinformatic approaches revealed a number of genexgene interactions, elucidating potential novel molecular genetic pathways that may affect psychological wellbeing. Conclusions: The current PPI made an effective contribution to mental health and overall well-being of participants in all three studies. The PPI may be able to modulate expression of genes related to positive psychological functioning, leading to increased well-being. Finally, it is proposed that the OXTR expression levels could be used as an experimental assay in validation of PPIs, promoting the practical legacy of PP.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available