Perspectives of health practitioners and adults who regained weight on predictors of relapse in weight loss maintenance behaviors: a concept mapping study

Health Psychol Behav Med. 2021 Dec 26;10(1):22-40. doi: 10.1080/21642850.2021.2014332. eCollection 2022.


Background: Preventing people from relapsing into unhealthy habits requires insight into predictors of relapse in weight loss maintenance behaviors. We aimed to explore predictors of relapse in physical activity and dietary behavior from the perspectives of health practitioners and persons who regained weight, and identify new predictors of relapse beyond existing knowledge.

Methods: We used concept mapping to collect data, by organizing eight concept mapping sessions among health practitioners (N=39, five groups) and persons who regained weight (N=21, three groups). At the start of each session, we collected participants' ideas on potential predictors. Subsequently, participants individually sorted these ideas by relatedness and rated them on importance. We created concept maps using principal component analysis and cluster analysis.

Results: 43 predictors were identified, of which the majority belonged to the individual domain rather than the environmental domain. Although the majority of predictors were mentioned by both stakeholder groups, both groups had different opinions regarding their importance. Also, some predictors were mentioned by only one of the two stakeholder groups. Practitioners indicated change in daily structure, stress, maladaptive coping skills, habitual behavior, and lack of self-efficacy regarding weight loss maintenance as most important recurrent (mentioned in all groups) predictors. Persons who regained weight indicated lifestyle imbalance or experiencing a life event, lack of perseverance, negative emotional state, abstinence violation effect, decrease in motivation and indulgence as most important recurrent predictors.

Conclusions: For several predictors associations with relapse were shown in prior research; additionally, some new predictors were identified that have not been directly associated with relapse in weight loss maintenance behaviors. Our finding that both groups differed in opinion regarding the importance of predictors or identified different predictors, may provide an opportunity to enhance lifestyle coaching by creating more awareness of these possible discrepancies and including both points of view during coaching.

Keywords: Relapse; concept mapping; dietary behavior; physical activity; weight loss maintenance.

Grant support

The contribution of ER and MVS was supported by the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Veni from NWO-SSH (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research—Division for Social Sciences and Humanities) under project number 451-16-018.