Goal setting frequency and the use of behavioral strategies related to diet and physical activity

Health Educ Res. 2007 Aug;22(4):532-8. doi: 10.1093/her/cyl117. Epub 2006 Oct 10.


Goal setting is an effective way to focus attention on behavior change. Theoretically, frequency of goal setting may indicate the level of commitment to diet and physical activity behavior change. Yet, little is known about the association between goal setting frequency and use of specific diet or physical activity-related strategies. This study examines whether changes in goal setting frequency predict changes in use of behavioral strategies over time, controlling for baseline strategy use, demographics and whether a person was trying to lose weight. Data are from a baseline and 1-year follow-up survey of adults in rural Iowa (n = 385). Overall, goal setting frequency was positively associated with use of the strategies measured, at baseline and overtime. Frequent goal setting that is focused specifically on diet or physical activity was more predictive of using dietary or physical activity strategies, respectively, than goal setting focused on weight loss overall. The study provides empirical support for what has been assumed theoretically, that is, frequent goal setting for weight management is an indicator of use of specific behavioral strategies. Significant challenges remain in regard to maintenance of this activity and attainment of weight loss goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Weight Loss