Differences in motivations and weight loss behaviors in young adults and older adults in the national weight control registry

Academic Article


  • Objective: The goal of this study was to compare young adults (YA) and older adults (OA) in the National Weight Control Registry on motivations for weight loss and weight-loss behaviors. Design and Methods: Participants (n = 2,964, 82% female, 94% White, BMI = 24.8 ± 4.4) were divided into two age groups (18-35 vs. 36-50) and compared on motivations, strategies for weight loss, diet, physical activity (PA), and the three-factor eating questionnaire. Results: YA were 28.6% of the sample (n = 848). YA and OA achieved similar weight losses (P = 0.38), but duration of maintenance was less in YA (43 vs. 58 months, P < 0.001). YA were more likely to cite appearance and social motivations for weight loss, were less motivated by health, and were less likely to report a medical trigger for weight loss (P's < 0.001). YA were more likely to use exercise classes and to lose weight on their own, and less likely to use a commercial program (P's < 0.001). YA reported engaging in more high-intensity PA (P = 0.001). There were no group differences in total calories consumed (P = 0.47), or percent calories from fat (P = 0.97), alcohol (P = 0.52), or sugar-sweetened beverages (P = 0.26). Conclusions: YA successful weight losers (SWL) are motivated more by appearance and social influences than OA, and physical activity appears to play an important role in their weight-loss efforts. The differences reported by YA and OA SWL should be considered when developing weight-loss programs for YA. Copyright © 2012 The Obesity Society.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Larose JG; Leahey TM; Hill JO; Wing RR
  • Start Page

  • 449
  • End Page

  • 453
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 3