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Losing weight as couple is just as effective as going alone: Study

Study published in Journal of Behavioral Medicine has highlighted how characteristics of “grit”

San Francisco, Oct 14, 2023
While many people believe that losing weight as a couple is a great way to achieve their weight loss goals, a new study has found that going it alone can be just as effective.

The study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine has highlighted how characteristics of “grit” (the ability to persevere toward long-term goals) and self-control are associated with better weight loss and weight maintenance in couples.

The 12-month study included a six-month intervention and then a follow-up after another six months with the 64 couples.

The researchers had participants fill out questionnaires to assess their levels of self-control and grit at the start and end of the study.

They also engaged participants in a behavioural weight loss intervention to decrease calorie intake and increase physical activity.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that there was no couple effect.

Couples did not start out with similar levels of self-control or grit, and, if one member of a couple improved their grit or self-control over the course of the study, their partner did not necessarily experience similar changes.

“While couples tend to share weight management behaviours, this study found that there wasn’t any social influence between the couples when it comes to self-control or grit. Instead, these are more individual characteristics,” said Tricia Leahey, director of the US-based Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP).

However, even without specifically focusing on increasing self-control and grit, participants did generally see improvements in these characteristics during initial treatment, according to the study.

“That suggests that both constructs are malleable. Sometimes people think of self-control as something that doesn’t change. But this study goes to show that, with a behavioural weight loss program that teaches behaviour change strategies, we can improve people’s self-control or goal pursuit,” Leahey said.(Agency)

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