Psychological factors influencing weight loss maintenance: an integrative literature review

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2011 Nov;23(11):592-601. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2011.00647.x. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


Purpose: Weight loss is critical in the fight against obesity yet only about 20% of individuals maintain weight loss long term. This review examines the psychological factors influencing weight loss maintenance.

Data sources: An electronic search was used to identify studies from 2003 to 2009 in the following databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, PsycARTICLES.

Conclusion: Evidence indicated avoiding dichotomous thinking, eating to regulate mood, and disinhibited eating were associated with weight loss maintenance. Increased dietary restraint, perceived benefits outweighing costs, lower/stable levels of depression, and more positive body image were also associated with weight loss maintenance. Results were inconclusive on unrealistic weight loss expectations and failure to achieve weight loss goals.

Implications for practice: Practitioners can play a pivotal role in screening clients for these factors and recommending treatment to increase the likelihood of successful weight loss maintenance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Weight Loss*