Understanding the challenge of weight loss maintenance: A systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research on weight loss maintenance
Health Psychology Review
Taylor & Francis for European Health Psychology Society
Reason for embargo
Behaviour change interventions can be effective in helping people to lose weight, but weight is often regained. Effective interventions are required to prevent this. We conducted a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research on people's experiences of weight loss maintenance. We searched bibliographic databases for qualitative studies about the experience of currently or previously overweight adults trying to maintain weight loss. We thematically synthesised study findings to develop a model of weight loss maintenance. Twenty six studies from five countries with 710 participants were included. The model developed through our synthesis proposes that making the behaviour changes required for weight loss maintenance generates psychological "tension" due to the need to override existing habits, and incompatibility of the new behaviours with the fulfilment of psychological needs. Successful maintenance involves management or resolution of this tension. Management of tension can be achieved through self-regulation, renewing of motivation and managing external influences, although this can require constant effort. Resolution may be achieved through changing habits, finding non obesogenic methods for addressing needs, and potentially through change in self-concept. Implications for the development of weight loss maintenance interventions are explored.
This report is independent research supported by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (Career Development Fellowship CDF-2012-05-259) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care of the South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC). Dr R Garside’s time is partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme and European Social Fund Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of EU, NIHR or the UK Department of Health.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Published online 10 March 2017
Place of publication