Facilitators and barriers to weight loss and weight loss maintenance: a qualitative exploration

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The present study aimed to explore facilitators and barriers to weight loss (WL) and weight loss maintenance (WLM) in women who participated in a primary, 18-week comparative trial that promoted WL with an energy-restricted diet.


Twenty-three women participated in seven focus groups conducted by a moderator and co-facilitator using open-ended questions and probes. Focus groups were held in a private room and audio tape-recorded. Tapes were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was used to evaluate transcripts for common themes.


Accountability to others, social support, planning ahead, awareness and mindfulness of food choices, basic nutrition education, portion control, exercise, and self-motivation were perceived as key facilitators for WL and WLM by women. Identified barriers included life transitions, health status changes, internal factors, environmental pressures, lack of accountability and an absence of social support.


Future interventions should address these salient facilitators and barriers to promote sustainable changes in women across their WL and WLM journeys.

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