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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2010, Article ID 859413, 7 pages
Research Article

Evaluating the Role of Life Events and Sustaining Conditions in Weight Loss Maintenance

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7HX, UK

Received 17 September 2009; Accepted 19 April 2010

Academic Editor: Linda McCargar

Copyright © 2010 Eleni Epiphaniou and Jane Ogden. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Recent qualitative research indicates that life events can enhance behaviour change maintenance. if a number of sustaining conditions are met. This study aimed to quantitatively test this theory in the context of weight loss maintenance. Method. Based upon their weight histories participants were classified as either successful ( 𝑛 = 4 3 1 ) or unsuccessful ( 𝑛 = 5 9 2 ) dieters and all completed questionnaires relating to life events, choice, the function of eating and exercise and the model of their weight problem. Findings. Successful dieters reported a higher number of life events than unsuccessful dieters particularly for events such as “clothes did not fit me”, “doctor's recommendation” and “reached my heaviest weight”. Successful participants also indicated reduced choice over their previous unhealthy diet, more choice over their exercise behaviours and more benefits from the new healthy behaviours. They were also less likely to attribute their previous increased weight to any medical and psychological factors. This was accompanied by a belief about the effectiveness of behavioural solutions to their weight problem. Discussion. Life events can promote behaviour change for some individuals. This change is facilitated by a reduction in choice and disruption of function over the unhealthy behaviours, and a belief that behavioural solutions will be effective.