Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Examining the Quality of Motivation Participants Experience in Commercial Weight Loss Programs
by Boersma, Helena N., Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2015, 115; 3663359
Abstract (Summary)

Over the last century, the United States saw a steady increase in obesity rates and the growth of a commercial weight loss industry that topped $62 billion in 2012 with markers indicating ongoing growth rate. The commercial weight loss industry followed a behavioral approach to weight loss that focused on changing lifestyle, such as diet and physical activity, to promote changes in body weight. This approach has been effective but limited, helping approximately 20 percent of individuals seeking to lose weight. A new idea was to add an understanding of motivation, as outlined by self-determination theory, to existing weight loss program models. The research question asked what was the relationship between the quality of motivation participants in commercial, non-medicalized weight loss programs experienced and the perceived level of autonomy support those participants received from their weight loss program? The research hypothesis stated when individuals had a higher quality of motivation and perceived their commercial weight loss programs as autonomy supportive, individuals would have a greater sense of volition for weight loss, thereby maintaining the loss. This study aimed to inform our understanding of the quality of motivation change-seekers had for participating in commercial weight loss programs, which would allow weight loss counselors to better understand the motivational orientation of their clients.

This quantitative, cross-sectional study utilized the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire and Health Care Climate Questionnaire, which were disseminated online in the United States to adults who were enrolled in one of three commercial weight loss programs that offered a counseling or support component: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems. Participants were 127 adults (F=117, M=10). The relationship between the quality of motivation and perceived autonomy support by providers showed a strong correlation at 12-14 weeks (R = .808, p < .001) and moderate at 20-22 weeks (R = .377, p < .05). A multiple regression analysis indicated a predictive effect of demographic variables on weight loss F(6, 116) = 10.748, p < .001. A stepwise regression analysis showed BMI had the greatest impact on weight loss accounting for 20% of the variance (R2 = .20), with the autonomous subscale accounting for an additional 7% (R2 = .27). The actual weight difference between BMI and autonomous was .3 pounds per person, or a 21% difference, suggesting that autonomy played an important role in predicting weight loss. Overall implications of the study suggested that individuals who were more autonomous in their quality of motivation lost more weight than those who had a higher controlled quality of motivation. Additionally, those who perceived their weight loss program as autonomy supportive lost more weight independent of their quality of motivation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Linnenberg, Daniel M.
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Social psychology, Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Autonomy, Commercial, Self-Determination Theory, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Counseling
Publication Number: 3663359
ISBN: 9781321905496
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