Objective: This study analyzed baseline behavioral and psychosocial differences between successful and nonsuccessful participants in a behavioral weight management program. Success was defined by commonly used health-related criteria (5% weight loss). Noncompletion was also used as a marker of a failed attempt at weight control.
Subjects: A total of 158 healthy overweight and obese women (age, 48.0+/-4.5 y; BMI, 31.0+/-3.8 kg/m(2); body fat, 44.5+/-5.3%).
Intervention: Subjects participated in a 16-week lifestyle weight loss program consisting of group-based behavior therapy to improve diet and increase physical activity, and were followed for 1 y after treatment.
Methods: At baseline, all women completed a comprehensive behavioral and psychosocial battery assessing dieting/weight history, dietary intake and eating behaviors, exercise, self-efficacy, outcome evaluations, body image, and other variables considered relevant for weight management. Participants who maintained a weight loss of 5% or more at 16 months (or 10% or more of initial fat mass) were classified as successful. Nonsuccessful participants were those who dropped out and completers who had not lost weight at follow-up.
Results: Of all participants, 30% (n=47) did not complete initial treatment and/or missed follow-up assessments (noncompleters). Noncompletion was independently associated with more previous weight loss attempts, poorer quality of life, more stringent weight outcome evaluations, and lower reported carbohydrate intake at baseline. In logistic regression, completion status was predicted correctly in 84% of all cases (chi(2)=45.5, P<0.001), using baseline information only. Additional predictors of attrition were initial weight, exercise minutes, fiber intake, binge eating, psychological health, and body image. A large variation in weight loss/maintenance results was observed (range: 37.2 kg for 16-month weight change). Independent baseline predictors of success at 16 months were more moderate weight outcome evaluations, lower level of previous dieting, higher exercise self-efficacy, and smaller waist-to-hip ratio. Success status at follow-up was predicted correctly in 74% of all starting cases (chi(2)=33.6, P<0.001).
Conclusion: Psychosocial and behavioral variables (eg, dieting history, dietary intake, outcome evaluations, exercise self-efficacy, and quality of life) may be useful as pretreatment predictors of success level and/or attrition in previously overweight and mildly obese women who volunteer for behavioral weight control programs. These factors can be used in developing readiness profiles for weight management, a potentially important tool to address the issue of low success/completion rates in the current management of obesity.