Predictors of Weight and Fitness Related Meanings

Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 2:25 PM

Christine Heifner Graor, PhD
College of Nursing, The University of Akron, Akron, OH

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand dimensions of group involvement.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the utility of group involvement to predict the meanings of weight loss and fitness-related behaviors and self-views.

Purpose: Despite studies examining relationships between weight loss maintenance, behaviors, and psychological constructs (e.g., self-esteem, self-efficacy), no studies have examined the relationship between weight loss maintenance and relevant meanings.  This study investigated if weight loss maintenance and involvement in weight loss and fitness groups predict meanings of weight loss-related behaviors and self-views. The study was guided by Meade’s theory of socialization. 

Methods: Cross-sectional survey data were collected from subjects (n=400) recruited at weight loss and fitness sites in a Midwest state and at weight loss and fitness Internet websites. Approximately 82% were female, and 92% were Caucasian. Age ranged from 18-80 (M=36.22, SD=14.75). Meaning was measured as affective meanings of evaluation, potency, and activity on 9-point semantic differential scales. Four dimensions of group involvement were measured: extensive (size of group social networks), affective (importance that significant others give to weight loss and fitness), duration, and frequency. Data were analyzed using multiple regression (gender, age, and BMI controlled). Self-views included: “myself as I really am,” myself as others see me,” “my body.” Behaviors included: “to be physically active,” “to exercise,” “to eat 3 desserts.” 

Results: Weight loss maintenance did not predict self-meanings and negatively predicted positive, potent, and active behaviors meanings of one behavior (to eat 3 desserts, β=-.22 to -.35, p<.05-.01). Extensive and frequency of involvement consistently predicted positive, potent and active self-views (β=.36 to .64, p<.01-.001) and behavior meanings (to be physical active, to exercise: β=.22 to .87, p<.05-.001, to eat 3 desserts: β=-.67 to -.78, p<.05-.01).

Conclusion: Extensive and frequency of weight loss and fitness group involvement are better predictors of meanings of weight loss-related behaviors and self-views, than are weight loss maintenance and duration and affective involvement. Therefore, group socialization may have more influence on weight loss and fitness-related meanings than personal accomplishments of weight loss maintenance.