Brock researchers examine motivation in commercial weight loss programs

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Brock researchers examine motivation in commercial weight loss programs


July 28, 2009

Brock University researchers will monitor 500 to 600 people in commercial weight loss programs next year to see what motivates them to keep going.

Philip Wilson and Diane Mack, researchers in the Behavioural Health Sciences Research Lab, will attach accelerometers to the arms of study participants, which will be worn everywhere but in water. They will also survey participants in weight loss programs like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and others to see what motivated them to sign up for the programs, and what keeps them motivated as the months pass.

The ultimate goal is developing new resources for those trying to lose weight. In the final year of the three-year study, Wilson and Mack will draft their own motivational pamphlet for weight loss program participants.

Currently, only 20 per cent of weight loss program participants make the necessary lifestyle changes to maintain their weight loss.

“We want to look at what forces keep them doing it over the long run, and if there are factors that are more conducive to a long-term health change,” Mack said. “This will help us tailor our interventions and tailor our support.”

The study started in May with a $163,067 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The researchers have already conducted a pilot study with 150 participants.

The accelerometers are sophisticated enough to monitor, among other things, short-term activity, quality of sleep and the amount of time the device is off the body.

Wilson and Mack have also studied diet and exercise in people with osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.