Purpose: This study investigated whether participants in a 6-month telephone-based coaching program, who set physical activity, nutrition, and weight loss goals had better outcomes in these domains.
Design: Quasi-experimental design.
Setting: The Australian Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service (GHS), a free population-wide telephone health-coaching service that includes goal setting as a key component of its coaching program.
Participants: Consenting GHS coaching participants who had completed coaching between February 2009 and December 2012 (n = 4108).
Measures: At baseline, participants select a goal for the coaching program, and sociodemographic variables are collected. Self-reported weight, height, waist circumference, physical activity, and nutrition-related behaviors are assessed at baseline and 6 months.
Analysis: Descriptive analysis was performed on key sociodemographic variables, and the relationship between goal type and change in health outcomes was assessed using a series of linear mixed models that modeled change from baseline to 6 months.
Results: Participants who set goals in relation to weight management and physical activity achieved better results in these areas than those who set alternate goals, losing more than those who set alternate goals (1.5 kg and 0.9 cm in waist circumference) and increasing walking per week (40 minutes), respectively. There was no difference in food-related outcomes for those that set nutrition-related goals.
Conclusion: Goal setting for weight management and increasing physical activity in the overweight and obese population, undertaken in a telephone-based coaching program, can be effective.
Keywords: goal settings; health coaching; nutrition; obesity; physical activity.