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Title: Self-weighing and self-regulation for weight loss
Author: Frie, Kerstin
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 1398
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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Intentional weight loss requires self-regulation to override externally-driven behaviours. Self-regulation theory hypothesises that individuals automatically self-regulate when they find that their current state is not in line with their goals. In the context of weight management, this process involves self-weighing, contextualising weight measurements, reflecting on and evaluating previous behaviour, and planning and performing weight loss actions. The research presented in this thesis explored barriers to and benefits of self-weighing and self-regulation for weight loss in adults with overweight or obesity. In a think-aloud study, I investigated the extent to which self-regulation occurs naturally. I found that action planning was performed rarely, but was a significant predictor of weight loss. Individuals found self-weighing useful, but fluctuations hindered the interpretation of weight changes. With an observational analysis, I then explored why individuals trying to lose weight stop weighing themselves. I found individuals concurrently reduced their physical activity and gained weight preceding a stop in weight monitoring, suggesting that individuals lost motivation to lose weight and struggled receiving negative weight feedback. An app market review explored user reviews of weight tracking apps, finding that users gained motivation from receiving (graphical) feedback on their progress. Based on the findings from these three studies, I developed a weight loss intervention guiding individuals through the complete self-regulation process, whilst addressing several identified barriers. To support individuals` interpretation of weight changes, I employed daily weighing and weight tracking, but weekly reflection on weight changes. The intervention additionally encouraged individuals to experiment with weight loss actions on a daily basis, and evaluate their usefulness once a week. A randomised controlled trial (RCT) tested the early effectiveness of the intervention against daily weighing only, finding a significant weight loss effect at 8-week follow-up (-3.20kg, 95% CI=-4.49, -1.92). Participants found the intervention acceptable and feasible. Altogether, my research suggests that self-regulation can be an effective weight loss strategy when individuals are guided through it, supporting further research in this area. The long-term effectiveness of the intervention warrants further testing in a larger RCT.
Supervisor: Aveyard, Paul ; Hartmann-Boyce, Jamie ; Jebb, Susan A. Sponsor: National Institute for Health Research
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology ; Behavioural Medicine