The Psychological Record

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 161–168 | Cite as

Diet and Exercise Failures: A Theoretical Extension of Relapse

  • Joshua GarnerEmail author
  • Chelsey Brown
  • Sonia Levy
Theoretical Article


Obesity is a non-communicable disease that is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer (WHO, 2016). While there are many ways to treat obesity, approximately 80% of those who attempt a diet or exercise program fail to achieve and/or maintain their weight loss (Wing & Phelan, 2005). This article assesses the problem of obesity and the failure to maintain treatment outcomes through a conceptual analysis of relapse. This includes analyzing not only the behaviors of individuals who are obese, but their surrounding environments. This article includes a discussion of resurgence, renewal, reinstatement, and behavioral momentum theory, which may provide additional information and guidance when creating treatment plans related to obesity and obesity-related disorders. Assessing obesity through a behavior analytic lens of relapse may lead to better adherence and maintenance of obesity treatment programs, but also decrease the burden that obesity and obesity relapse has on the health-care system.


Obesity Relapse Resurgence Renewal Reinstatement Behavioral momentum Healthy eating Exercise 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest. In addition, this article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyChicagoUSA

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