Motivation can help people lose weight


Overweight is a serious health threat. It can increase risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory problems.

Most people with excess weight choose to lose weight and maintain their weight loss. However, research shows that the success of long-term maintenance is low.

In a study published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, researchers find that autonomous motivation, which is self-determined, is useful to help people lose weight.

Seventeen women between the ages of 18 and 65 took part in a 12-week weight loss program. Each week, upon their arrival, participants were weighted by a medical assistant. After that, they exercised with a guest fitness coach. After the workout, they attended a lecture about healthy lifestyle.

In the first week, participants wrote down their motivation for a healthy diet and exercise: “The reason I would (exercise regularly or eat a healthy diet) is….”.

Researchers found that autonomous motivation for a healthy diet was significantly correlated with average weekly weight loss and total weight loss and (to a lesser extent) the total number of visits. In addition, autonomous motivation for diet could predict average weekly weight loss.

Researchers suggest that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise were primarily inner-directed. These autonomous motivations focus on interest and enjoyment, and thus can help maintain long-term weight loss.

Findings from this study can help to design weight loss interventions based on individual motivations. Motivation tests can help health care providers to tailor weight loss methods to fit individual needs. Future research will improve weight loss outcome using motivation-based programs.

Citation: Tigay JH, Thompson M, Sutton D, Lesley M. (2016). Motivation for Weight Loss. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12: e169-e173. doi:
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