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Eat Behav. 2007 Jan;8(1):132-5. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

Reasons for wanting to lose weight: different strokes for different folks.

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  • 1Psychology Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56 Dunedin, New Zealand.


We assessed whether treatment seeking overweight and obese people citing differing reasons for wanting to lose weight also differed in psychosocial characteristics thought to impact on weight loss. Dieting motives, self-esteem, body image, number of dieting attempts in the past two years, and the primary reason for wanting to lose weight were assessed in 106 treatment seeking overweight and obese volunteers (mean (SD) body mass index 35.5 (5.7)kg/m2; age 41.9 (10.8)y). Reasons for wanting to lose weight fell into three broad categories, with 35%, 50%, and 15% of the participants citing appearance, health, and mood, respectively. Participants citing health reasons were happier with their appearance than people citing mood or appearance reasons. Participants citing mood reasons had poorer self-image and self-esteem, a greater preoccupation with being overweight, and had attempted to diet more often than people citing appearance or health. The primary reason for overweight people seeking weight loss may reflect psychosocial differences that impact on successful weight loss. Identifying a person's reasons and motives for weight loss may help in tailoring dietary and psychological components of a weight loss program to the individual.

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