Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 13–17

Self-Expansion is Associated with Better Adherence and Obesity Treatment Outcomes in Adults

  • Xiaomeng Xu
  • Tricia M. Leahey
  • Katherine Boguszewski
  • Katie Krupel
  • Kimberly A. Mailloux
  • Rena R. Wing
Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-016-9823-7

Cite this article as:
Xu, X., Leahey, T.M., Boguszewski, K. et al. ann. behav. med. (2017) 51: 13. doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9823-7



Previous studies have shown that self-expansion (e.g., increasing positive self-content via engaging in novel, rewarding activities) is associated with smoking cessation and attenuated cigarette-cue reactivity.


This study examined whether self-expansion is associated with better adherence, weight loss, and physical activity (PA) outcomes within a weight loss intervention.


Participants from Shape Up Rhode Island 2012, a Web-based community wellness initiative, took part in a randomized controlled trial that involved a 12-week behavioral weight loss intervention [1]. At baseline and post-intervention, objective weights and self-reported self-expansion and PA were obtained from 239 participants. Treatment adherence was assessed objectively.


Self-expansion during treatment was significantly associated with percent weight loss including clinically significant weight loss (i.e., 5 %), minutes of PA, and treatment adherence. These results held after controlling for relevant covariates.


This is the first study to show that self-expansion is associated with better behavioral weight loss outcomes including weight loss, adherence, and PA. These results suggest that self-expansion is a promising novel target for future research which could inform health interventions.


Self-expansion Weight loss Physical activity Adherence Obesity 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  • 5R18DK083248-04

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/Weight Control and Diabetes Research CenterThe Miriam HospitalProvidenceUSA

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