Motivations for Weight Loss and Behavior Change Strategies Associated With Natural Recovery From Obesity

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Untreated adults (n = 21) with lengthy weight problem histories who had maintained stable weight loss for a mean of 4.5 years were interviewed and completed questionnaires about their motivations for and behavioral strategies used during weight loss. Currently obese, untreated adults (n = 20) served as controls. Successful natural recovery was associated with behavior changes like those emphasized in behavioral weight management programs (e.g., healthier food choices, eating more slowly, regular exercise). Motivations for weight loss were largely negative and reflected appearance and psychosocial concerns. Demographic, weight history, and health variables generally did not distinguish the groups. Obesity treatment was widely available but was viewed negatively. These findings reveal natural processes involved in sustained weight loss, highlight the potential importance of separating influences on behavior change from influences on help-seeking, and suggest ways that obesity treatments could be improved to increase their appeal.

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