Weight loss: why do not you always have to talk publicly about your goals - The360 Healthy

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  • Saturday, November 2, 2019

    Weight loss: why do not you always have to talk publicly about your goals

    Weight loss: why do not you always have to talk publicly about your goals

    According to a new study by British researchers, reporting the progress of weight loss to friends and family may actually hinder it because of the pressure it causes.


    All means are good to encourage when the goal of losing several pounds is set. Some people like to be accompanied by professionals, others by their loved ones and still others prefer to motivate themselves by taking regular "before / after" photos to capture their progress. But University College London researchers urge people to be careful about how to get involved. Because their study published in the International Journal of Applied Behavioral Economics challenges the belief that publicizing its weight loss goals will result in faster results.

    The researchers analyzed data from 364 registered customers of an online weight management service that billed an average monthly fee of £ 5. This included access to a calorie counter, a food diary, discussion forums, tips for a healthier diet, and a self-reported weight indicator. The website also allowed users to track their food consumption and sport, and compare their net energy intake to a personal goal they had set for themselves. In this study, clients participated in a baseline survey and were randomly assigned to three different groups.

    Weight loss can be slowed down

    The members of the first group had to name a friend or family member who was instructed to check whether the person was meeting his weight loss goals. Members of the second group have been offered a refund of their subscription, whether or not they reach the desired weight in the weeks to come. The third group served as a "control group", which was clients who continued to pay the monthly fee. The comparison between customers who paid fees and those who received a refund if they achieved their goal was put in place to find out if payment of fees was considered an undertaking.

    "The study aimed to determine whether users with a financial commitment can improve their weight loss progress by making their goals even more public and creating a new commitment to keep," say the researchers. The latter measured the results 12 weeks after the start of the experiment, and it turns out that all participants lost weight but not at the same frequency. For example, the clients in the reimbursed group and the control group lost 2.4% and 2.2%, respectively, of their average body weight. But those who had to share their goal with a loved one presented a weight loss of only 1.1% on average.

    Every person has to find out how to motivate himself 

    "The study shows that increased engagement can have a negative outcome for a number of reasons. The first is that the involvement of a loved one can replace the responsibility of individuals and their self-monitoring practice, away from digital tools, undermining weight loss efforts, "add the researchers. The second reason might be that public commitment to achieving already ambitious health goals can create a sense of "overload" in the person. Understand that the person publicly puts his reputation at stake which, instead of representing a source of motivation, becomes an additional weight to reach the goal in time.

    The results also revealed that there was no significant difference in weight loss between members of the "paying" group and those in the "reimbursement" group. "This suggests that willingness to pay upfront and ongoing fees for accessing health care tools is a reflection of intrinsic motivation, and reimbursement does not undermine the desire to achieve one's health goal," say researchers. Their study concludes that betting solely on family members is not necessarily the most effective way to ensure that the goals disclosed on the Internet are respected, but that it is still possible to bet on these two types of support for those wish it.

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