A Comparative Study of Antecedent Factors for Weight Loss

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies



Major Advisor

Linda Petlichkoff


Shelley Lucas


Caile Spear


Paul Baehr


Ten adult women from the greater Boise, ID and Abilene, TX area participated in this study. They were recruited by letters sent to physicians, weight loss centers, and gym facilities as well as newspaper advertisement and word-of-mouth referrals. The women represented a mostly homogenous ethnic sample (n = 9 Caucasian, n = 1 Caucasian/Hispanic) but differed in age (ranging from 22-65 years old), socioeconomic status (disabled, retired, unemployed, employed), and current family situation (single, married, divorced). Five respondents lost weight through diet and exercise and five respondents had intestinal bypass surgery. The results of the current study indicated that women in the diet and exercise group made only a few or no prior attempts at weight loss. They tended to be overweight rather than obese (with a BMI averaging at 30kg/m2 with one subject having had a BMI of 40kg/m2). Each respondent indicated there was a need for nutritional education and stressed the importance of exercise during the weight loss process, as well as the maintenance of their bodyweight. Four respondents believed regular supervision and directives from a coach (e.g., personal trainer, staff at weight loss center, friend) to be important for their success. All respondents described their chosen method of weight loss as a lifelong commitment and recalled specific events or markers in their lives. Respondents further indicated that they felt a need to do something for themselves as significant in making the decision to lose weight. Women, who chose intestinal bypass surgery as a weight loss method, had a history of familial obesity and depression. They engaged in binge-eating behavior with bulimic episodes and had been the victim of either physical or sexual assault by a close family member or friend. These participants voiced discomfort and physical inability due to their weight as main reasons for not engaging in physical when they made the decision to have bariatric surgery. Respondents further acknowledged employing specific strategies (i.e., changing employer to gain insurance approval of the procedure). Intestinal bypass represented a permanent solution to this group that produced a life change. Hence, the antecedent factors and the decision-making process differed among both groups.

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