Comparing the motivational basis for dietary regulation in women using versus not using commercial weight-loss programs


Study Objective: Grounded in Organismic Integration Theory (OIT; Deci & Ryan, 2002), the purpose of this study was to examine motivational differences for dietary intake between women using versus not using commercial weight-loss programs (CWLP). Methods: Two cohorts of women completed this study as part of Project D.I.N.E.S. (Dietary Intake, Nutrition, and Eating Study). Group 1 (n = 55; Mage = 34.16±13.29 years) were enrolled in Weight Watchers™. Group 2 (n = 55; Mage = 42.11±14.26 years) reported no current enrollment in any CWLP at the time of data collection. Participants completed an online questionnaire assessing demographics plus dietary motives within a non-experimental, cross-sectional research design. Results: Multivariate Analysis of Variance revealed omnibus differences between the groups (Wilks Lambda (6, 103) = 0.85, F = 3.03, p < .01). Identified regulation was the only dietary motive that differed between the groups (F = 9.96, p < .01). Women using CWLP (M = 6.49, SD = 0.65) reporting higher identified regulation scores than women not using CWLP (M = 5.99, SD = 0.98). Discussion: Women using CWLP to manage body weight value the personal importance of eating a healthy diet to a greater extent than women not using CWLP. The apparent lack of differences in other motives for eating suggests a possible distinct motivational signature affiliated with dietary regulation in cohorts using CWLP that can be explored and tested using OIT (Deci & Ryan, 2002) to shape interventions designed to optimize weight-control.

Acknowledgments: Funding Source: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada