Taking action to lose weight: toward an understanding of individual differences

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Treatment-seeking; Help-seeking; Predictors; Obesity; Dieting


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of the present study was to understand differences in obese/overweight individuals who do and do not seek ongoing external assistance for weight loss. Help-seeking was examined as a dichotomous and as a continuous variable. Measures of body mass index, comorbid medical conditions, socioeconomic status, psychological distress, disordered eating behavior, body image, and obesity-related knowledge were administered to a community sample of 120 overweight women (age: 22–65 y, BMI: 25–63 kg/m2). Fewer predictors of help-seeking were identified when measuring help-seeking as a dichotomy than when measuring it as a continuum. All predictors were from psychosocial domains, with obesity-related knowledge being the strongest, most consistent predictor. Help-seeking for weight control in a community sample of overweight and obese individuals appears to be motivated by psychological aspects of obesity, rather than obesity's physical or medical burden.

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