Using positive deviance for determining successful weight-control practices

Qual Health Res. 2011 Apr;21(4):563-79. doi: 10.1177/1049732310386623. Epub 2010 Oct 18.


Based on positive deviance (examining the practices of successful individuals), we identified five primary themes from 36 strategies that help to maintain long-term weight loss (weight control) in 61 people. We conducted in-depth interviews to determine what successful individuals did and/or thought about regularly to control their weight. The themes included weight-control practices related to (a) nutrition: increase water, fruit, and vegetable intake, and consistent meal timing and content; (b) physical activity: follow and track an exercise routine at least 3x/week; (c) restraint: practice restraint by limiting and/or avoiding unhealthy foods; (d) self-monitor: plan meals, and track calories/weight progress; and (e) motivation: participate in motivational programs and cognitive processes that affect weight-control behavior. Using the extensive data involving both the practices and practice implementation, we used positive deviance to create a comprehensive list of practices to develop interventions for individuals to control their weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benchmarking
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Tape Recording
  • Time Factors
  • Vegetables
  • Weight Loss*
  • Young Adult