Habit change is key to success for weight loss

September 28, 2018, McGill University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Can experts in behaviour change help boost weight loss for overweight people? McGill University researchers think so: they report significant results—up to 10% of body-mass loss with this approach.

Bärbel Knäuper, Steven Grover and their team worked with nearly 200 overweight participants (both men and women) using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in a year-long program to achieve greater in a group setting. Their results suggest that skills of the coaches (clinical psychology doctoral students) who delivered the program were a key factor in the treatment outcome—as was the regular tracking of eating and physical activity on online platforms like MyFitnessPal or myhealthcheckup.

Group-based weight programs normally lead to only around 3-5% weight loss. The researchers sought ways to improve the efficacy of these programs through a stronger focus on habit change.

The researchers found that:

  • Behavioural weight loss programs should be administered by experts in behaviour change.
  • A significant amount of weight loss was achieved in a group-based program—10% (roughly translating into 10kg per person) in 12 months on average. Most participants maintained this weight loss one year after program end.
  • One group that did not benefit as much from the program are individuals who overeat in response to negative emotions (emotional eaters).

The findings, published in the journal Obesity, "show that a great amount of weight loss can be achieved in a group setting using CBT," says Prof. Knäuper, Health Psychology Lab in the Department of Psychology. "We are currently examining what factors contributed to the excellent weight loss results and we're continuing our investigation into how integrating CBT optimizes -loss as well as developing programs that are better suited for emotional eaters."

Explore further: Mindfulness training shows promise for maintaining weight loss

More information: Bärbel Knäuper et al. The Effects of If-Then Plans on Weight Loss: Results of the McGill CHIP Healthy Weight Program Randomized Controlled Trial, Obesity (2018). DOI: 10.1002/oby.22226

Related Stories

Mindfulness training shows promise for maintaining weight loss

November 23, 2017
Can mindfulness training help overweight people shed pounds and keep them off? McGill University researchers surveyed the growing body of studies investigating that question, and came away encouraged.

Online diabetes prevention programs are as effective as in-person programs for weight loss

September 24, 2018
Researchers examined participation and weight loss results in an online diabetes prevention program; an in-person diabetes prevention program; and the Veterans Administration's face-to-face standard-of-care weight management ...

Web-based support system may help people lose weight and keep it off

July 5, 2018
In a randomized long-term lifestyle change trial, an Internet-based health behavior change support system (HBCSS) was effective in improving weight loss and reduction in waist circumference for up to 2 years. The findings ...

A maintenance program key to keeping off lost weight

February 20, 2017
A weight loss program that incorporates a maintenance intervention could help participants be more successful at keeping off pounds long term. Researchers found that a primarily telephone-based intervention focused on providing ...

Provider counseling for weight loss up for arthritis, overweight

May 7, 2018
(HealthDay)—In 2014, health care provider counseling for weight loss for adults with arthritis and overweight or obesity was 45.5 percent, up 10.4 percent from 2002, according to research published in the May 3 issue of ...

Lonely and prolonged struggle for people with severe obesity

June 20, 2018
The majority of people with severe obesity have a lonely and prolonged struggle with their weight. In one study spanning more than 10 years, 83 percent report that they constantly strive to lose weight or prevent weight gain.

Recommended for you

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

The metabolome: A way to measure obesity and health beyond BMI

October 11, 2018
The link between obesity and health problems may seem apparent. People who are obese are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. But increasingly, researchers are learning that the connection ...

Being overweight or obese in your 20s will take years off your life, according to a new report

October 10, 2018
Young adults classified as obese in Australia can expect to lose up to 10 years in life expectancy, according to a major new study.New modelling from The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney also ...

Asthma may contribute to childhood obesity epidemic

October 9, 2018
Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.

'Genes are not destiny' when it comes to weight

October 9, 2018
A healthy home environment could help offset children's genetic susceptibilities to obesity, according to new research led by UCL.

What did americans eat today? A third would say fast food

October 3, 2018
(HealthDay)—Americans' love affair with fast food continues, with 1 in every 3 adults chowing down on the fare on any given day.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NoStrings
not rated yet Sep 28, 2018
Who would have thought that developing and maintaining a habit of not overeating may lead to weight loss? What a joke.

The real question is - can you force people to maintain the habit when left on their own after this study is published. There are numerous studies saying: NO!
Macrocompassion
not rated yet Oct 01, 2018
weight loss is simply discipline to eat less and to accept hunger before a meal time as being normal.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.