Comparing Different Approaches to Weight Loss

707 words | 3 page(s)

The article “A Randomized Trial Comparing Two Approaches to Weight Loss: Differences in Weight Loss Maintenance” was written by a group of authors from Bowling Green State University. They are Robert A. Carels, Jacob M. Burmeister, Afton M. Koball, Marissa W. Oehlhof, Nova Hinman, Michelle LeRoy, Erin Bannon, Lee Ashrafioun, Amy Storfer-Isser, Lynn A. Darby, and Amanda Gumble. The article was published in Journal of Health Psychology in February 2014. The study’s purpose was to compare two weight loss programs. One of them was New Perspectives (NP), and it was focused on breaking unhealthy relationships to food, changing negative perception of body image and attitudes about weight. The second, Transforming Your Life (TYL), was aimed to instill healthy food behavior in participants, encouraging them to create positive food and fitness environment. The authors’ hypothesis was that the NP program would be more effective than TYL in decreasing negative psychological issues connected to body image; and the TYL program would be more efficient in increasing healthy eating and physical activity. The authors claimed that the topic of weight loss and connected psychological problems is very relevant. They cited other studies that report on numerous factors that may lead to obesity, such as family eating traditions, media impact, poor body image, and emotional eating. They suggested that NP would be more effective in long term because it was designed to challenge unhealthy attitude to food and weight. Working on individual’s psychological problems was expected to help losing weight more effectively than just teaching about healthy eating and exercising.

There were 59 study participants. Their mean age was 44.3, the majority of them were Caucasian females who lived with partners or spouses. All of them were mildly or moderately obese, and their body mass index was higher than 27 kg/m2. Approximately 60 percent of participants had annual income more than $30,000 and almost half of them had a college degree. These were the independent variables of the study. Participants were randomly assigned to either NP or TYL for twelve weeks. During this period, every week scientists were measuring their dependent biological and psychosocial variables, such as body mass, caloric intake, emotional eating, self-objectification, etc. To understand the efficiency of two programs, they conducted repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Eventually, there were no significant differences between efficiency of two interventions during treatment. The study also claims that completers and dropouts of both programs shared psychosocial variables, and their weight loss was quite similar. However, they noticed significant differences at post-treatment follow-up. Eventually, participants of TYL managed to maintain their weight significantly better than participants of NP. In addition, not all NP participants attended the follow-up meeting, and the authors suppose that dropouts had even worse results in maintaining their weight loss. Eventually, the results contradict the initial hypothesis, and New Perspectives’ approach does not help to maintain healthy relationships with food and weight. The discussion suggests that despite NP contributed to solving psychological problems, it failed to provide its participants with healthy habits and important information about maintaining their weight.

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In my opinion, the main disadvantage of this study was that the participants did not represent all social groups of our society. The majority of them were White middle-aged women from middle-class. Supposedly, if the participants had been more diverse, the results could have been different. Possibly, the New Perspectives program could be more effective for other demographic groups.

Secondly, it is unclear whether Transforming Your Life program did not affect participants’ psychosocial variables despite initially focusing on diet and exercise exclusively. Perhaps, it had the same impact as New Perspectives because of new experience and skills. Hence, the difference between these programs is not as clear as the authors were claiming.

Overall, the study proved that teaching healthy food and fitness habits is more beneficial then encouraging positive attitude about psychological factors. I suppose it is hard to keep positive approach to food and weight without support, whereas healthy habits can be easily maintained without professional help.

  • Carels, R. A., Burmeister, J. M., Koball, A. M., Oehlhof, M. W., Hinman, N., Leroy, M., . . . Gumble, A. (2014). A randomized trial comparing two approaches to weight loss: Differences in weight loss maintenance. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(2), 296-311. doi:10.1177/1359105312470156

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