Looking at predictors of weight control

I found a research article in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that I thought some people might find interesting. For those of you that are not big into the details of reading and making some type of sense of research studies, I’m going to do what we call a BLUF at work: Bottom Line Up Front. The authors of the study looked at weight loss and weight management following participation in a weight reduction program. The program lasted for 4 months, and participants were about 48 years old, female and overweight to moderately obese. The participants had engaged in an average of 2.2 diets in the year before the program started (they had to promise not to participate in any other diet or weight loss program during the current study). The program covered many topics pertaining to dietary habits to include reducing portion sizes, monitoring hunger, reducing fat intake, learning how to select nutrient-rich foods, etc. Physical activity topics discussed included everything from how to incorporate physical activity in your daily life to addressing safety concerns when exercising. Measurements at the start of the program included not only physical measurements but also assessments to measure binge eating habits, body image, self-efficacy (the belief that one is capable of maintaining an exercise program over time), and perceived barriers to physical activity. Follow-up measurements were taken at 4 months at the completion of the program and then again at 16 months (12 months after completion of the program). Long and short of it?

*Focusing on diet was effective for short-term weight loss, while increasing exercise-related motivation (primarily internal motivation) is more effective for weight management.*

The significance of the need for internal motivation related to physical activity is particularly relevant because it emphasizes the importance of picking a physical activity you enjoy. Internal motivation refers to things such as taking satisfaction in and enjoying the physical activities you choose, as opposed to external motivators such as what others think or your physical appearance. If you pick an activity you enjoy, as opposed to one you think you “should” be doing, you are much more likely to stick with it and see positive results.

Researchers also noted that many of the changes that took place leading to weight management (not necessarily weight loss) occurred after the four month program was over. What does that mean? An effective weight loss program has to encourage lifestyle changes if success is going to be maintained, because once a program is over-regardless of what type of program it is-the individual must have the tools to continue making healthy decisions.

For those who are interested in the full study (because there are a lot of factors they discuss that I will not get in to in this post) I am going to attempt to provide a link to the article. Exercise_Motivation,_Eating,_and_Body_Image.28 If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll email it to you. Here are some of the specifics about the study population:

Mean age (±SD) for the 136 participants was 48.1 ± 4.4 yr, mean BMI was 30.6 ± 5.6 kg ·m-2, and mean weight was 83.5 ± 11.6 kg. Participants had engaged in 2.2 ± 2.4 diets in the year before the program, had consciously started restricting their dietary intake at age 24.7 ± 10.6 yr, and about 62% of women reported they felt pressure to lose/maintain weight. According to the BES scale, about 30% of all subjects reported moderate binge eating symptoms (BES score 18-26), while only one woman had a score that suggested severe binge eating problems (BES >26).

The 136 women are those who finished the 4 month treatment; only 111 completed the 12 month follow-up. To account for the possibility of selective drop-out bias, the researchers used a last observation carried forward (LOCF) method. I had never heard of this before, but basically what they did is take those participants who dropped out, looked at their last measurements and added 0.2 kg per month of weight gain. This predicted weight gain was based on current behavioral obesity studies and is designed to account for the possible bias that can occur from only taking into account the results of those that stick with the study (assuming those that dropped out would have not experience as many positive results). I thought that was really interesting, although in this case it did not affect the overall significance of the results.


I believe citing is important so I’m going to give all of the relevant information to ensure credit is given where it is due, but it’s too late for me to be worrying about proper citation form so you’re just going to get it all as a blob of information:

Journal-Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise January 2006 – Volume 38 – Issue 1

Title-Exercise Motivation, Eating, and Body Image Variables as Predictors of Weight Control


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