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Rural Remote Health. 2007 Oct-Dec;7(4):864. Epub 2007 Dec 5.

Applicability of the stages of change and Weight Efficacy Lifestyle Questionnaire with natives of Sarawak, Malaysia.

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Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia.



There is an increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Malaysia. Besides prevalence studies, not much is known about either overweight or obese individuals. The objective of this study was to determine the stages of change in losing weight and the self-efficacy in eating control of three indigenous groups of overweight and obese adults in Sarawak, Malaysia.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in one rural region in Sarawak using a purposive sample. A structured questionnaire, which included two scales: (1) Weight: Stages of change (SOC) to assess readiness to change; and (2) Weight Efficacy Lifestyle Questionnaire (WEL) (both adopted from the transtheoretical model of change); and a set of pre-tested questionnaires on socio-demographic data, the presence of health problems and self-assessment of weight appropriateness, was used to interview respondents.


The stage distribution for weight loss of these adults respondents (n = 271) showed that 60.5% (n = 164) were in the pre-contemplation stage, 20.7% (n = 56) were in the contemplation stage, 8.5% (n = 23) were in the preparation stage, and 8.9% (n = 24) were in the action stage, while only 1.5% (n = 4) were in the maintenance stage. Except for education, the stage differences were generally stable across age, sex, race, household income, presence or absence of health problem, self-perceived weight and presence of overweight or obesity. Respondents were least able to control their eating under social pressure and food availability, according to their WEL score.


A large proportion of the overweight or obese adults was not intending to lose weight. The factor structure of the two WEL original subscales enabled partial differentiation between respondents who were able or unable to resist eating in situations where there were availability of food and experienced physical discomfort. The study results indicate the importance of assessing individuals' SOC score in order to implement stage-matched intervention strategies. More studies should be performed in order to validate the WEL questionnaire for use with a Malaysian sample.

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