, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 100-106

The weight loss experience: A descriptive analysis

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Background: Six months of loss followed by gradual regain to baseline is descriptive of most weight loss attempts.Purpose: This study sought to identify thoughts and feelings accompanying weight loss that might explain the phenomenon.Methods: Thoughts, feelings, and body weight were measured weekly for 6 months in 41 women receiving behavioral treatment for obesity.Results: Overall, the weight loss experience of these women was positive, requiring modest time and effort and being associated with more positive than negative thoughts and experiences. Over time, however, positive but not negative reactions to the weight loss experience decreased, as did the strength of beliefs that the benefits of weight loss were worth the effort. In addition, we found no relation between the women’s perception of effort and weight loss results.Conclusions: Inadequate long-term rewards for behaviors needed for weight control may be an important cause of frequent weight loss failures.

This research was supported by Grant NS38441 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and by Grant DK50456 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. We thank Carolyn Thorson for her help with data collection and weight loss intervention management.