Year of Publication

2018

Season of Publication

Spring

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Name

Honors in the Major

First Advisor

Dr. Paul T. Fuglestad

Second Advisor

Dr. Lorie Lange

Abstract

This study explored whether body weight was affected by certain lifestyle behaviors and if these behaviors were affected by a brief, self-directed weight control intervention. The behavioral factors assessed in this study included: meal regularity, fast-food eating, television viewing and eating/sedentary time, dietary modifications (e.g., portion control, reducing fat intake), self-monitoring (tracking diet and exercise), self-weighing, and physical activity. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention groups or a minimal contact control group. The intervention groups completed a 1-hour education session at baseline and received bi-weekly emails. Participants completed online questionnaires at baseline and 3 months, and body measurement sessions at baseline and 6 months. T-tests were used to determine whether the intervention had an effect on the lifestyle variables. Although there were trends in dietary modification and self-weighing, there was no significant difference. However, the weight control intervention did increase self-monitoring behaviors. A multiple regression model was used to determine whether changes in lifestyle variables predicted changes in weight. The overall model was significant, F (9,50) = 2.34, p = 0.028, R2 = .30. Increases in meal regularity predicted decreases in weight, whereas increases in TV related eating/viewing and, unexpectedly, exercise predicted increases in weight. No other behavioral factors significantly predicted changes in weight. Results suggest that the weight control intervention could be improved and that further research is needed to understand behavioral factors related to weight change.

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