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Looking in the mirror helps overweight women shed pounds

"Eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror is not in line with health standards and thus induces an uncomfortable feeling which decreases the taste of food - consequently decreasing consumption."

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Teen African girl checking herself in front of mirror. Black young woman standing in front of mirror reflection

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Taking a look in the mirror helps overweight women shed the pounds, according to new research.

Catching a reflection in the bathroom or a shop changing room is an inspirational weight-loss weapon, say scientists.

The crushing, sinking feeling of seeing those love handles encourages healthy behavior, suggests the study.

It reduces anxiety and body dissatisfaction. Spending a few minutes gazing improves self-awareness, say scientists.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, were based on data pooled from five studies involving 1,687 participants - mainly women.

Lead author Dr. Harriet Omondi, of Texas Woman's University in the US, said: "Self-assessment and reflection are key to overall wellbeing.

"Our review hopes to introduce the mirror as a healthcare tool to combat obesity."

Her team found the presence of a mirror made unhealthy food taste less nice.

Individuals were more likely to opt for dried fruit rather than brownies, and fruit salad instead of chocolate cake.

An analysis found women ate less and spent more time chewing each mouthful - adjusting their hair and clothes in between.

When a mirror was placed in a university cafeteria, students were more likely to opt for healthy dressings like olive oil than fat-laden sauces.

Woman at the gym struggling with her weight in front of the mirror

Omondi, a family nurse practitioner, says mirrors decrease food consumption and boost self-esteem.

She said: "Mirror exposure can induce self-awareness which implores individuals to act in harmony with broader societal standards.

"Eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror is not in line with health standards and thus induces an uncomfortable feeling which decreases the taste of food - consequently decreasing consumption."

Most people avoid introspection while taking part in contrary behavior. Overeating is a way to escape and not deal with the self, she explained.

But convincing obese individuals to become self-conscious can be a tall order. Mirrors in therapeutic settings may be the answer.

Omondi said: "Cognitive behavioral therapy has been the mainstay treatment for obesity.

"It has been shown to reduce binge-eating episodes and reduce shape and BMI (body mass index) issues. But long-term effects have not been studied."

Combining it with mirrors may assist obese individuals in maintaining a healthy BMI.

The studies from the US, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia were mainly limited to female subjects.

Body dissatisfaction related to obesity is reported higher in females than males, said Omondi.

She added: "The use of a mirror in obese individuals is an emerging research area that is still in its infancy and has not been highly studied.

"The presence of mirrors can be a useful tool to be added to obesity management programs to curb this epidemic by encouraging healthy behaviors.

"The time spent during mirror exposure is crucial as individuals need to spend a few minutes gazing at themselves in a therapeutic environment to attain self-awareness that will elicit a change.

"More research is needed in this field as there exists a gap in this area. This can be added to the list of interventions in obesity management and consequently reduce the health and economic burden of obesity."

Around 42 percent of Americans are classified as obese, according to the CDC.

Obesity increases the risk of developing many life-threatening illnesses including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and some cancers.

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