Instrumentalization of Eating Improves Weight Loss Maintenance in Obesity

Obes Facts. 2017;10(6):633-647. doi: 10.1159/000481138. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Aim: The purpose of this study was to identify psychosocial determinants for maintaining weight loss.

Methods: 42 obese individuals who achieved a 12% weight loss before entering a 52-week weight maintenance program were interviewed qualitatively. Psychosocial factors related to weight loss maintenance were identified in two contrasting groups: weight reducers and weight regainers. Groups were defined by health-relevant weight maintenance (additional weight loss > 3% at week 52, n = 9 versus weight gain > 3%, at week 52, n = 20).

Results: Weight reducers reported structured meal patterns (p = 0.008), no comfort eating (p = 0.016) and less psychosocial stress (p = 0.04) compared to weight regainers. The ability to instrumentalize eating behavior emerged as an important factor (p = 0.007). Nutritional knowledge, motivation or exercise level did not differ between groups (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: Successful weight loss maintenance was associated with an interplay between behavioral, affective and contextual changes. 'Instrumentalization of eating behavior' seems to be an important element in long-term weight maintenance.

Keywords: Body weight maintenance; Interviews; Obesity; Psychosocial aspects; Qualitative research; Quantification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs*