10 habits of people who lose weight and keep it off – The Australian Financial Review


Posted: March 23, 2020 at 11:49 am

Imagine each time a person goes home in the evening, they eat a snack. When they first eat the snack, a mental link is formed between the context (getting home) and their response to that context (eating a snack). Every time they subsequently snack in response to getting home, this link strengthens, to the point that getting home prompts them to eat a snack automatically. This is how a habit forms.

New research has found weight-loss interventions that are founded on habit-change, (forming new habits or breaking old habits) may be effective at helping people lose weight and keep it off.

We recruited 75 volunteers from the community (aged 18-75) with excess weight or obesity and randomised them into three groups. One program promoted breaking old habits, one promoted forming new habits, and one group was a control (no intervention).

The habit-breaking group was sent a text message with a different task to perform every day. These tasks were focused on breaking usual routines and included things such as drive a different way to work today, listen to a new genre of music or write a short story.

The habit-forming group was asked to follow a program that focused on forming habits centred on healthy lifestyle changes. The group was encouraged to incorporate 10 healthy tips into their daily routine, so they became second-nature.

Unlike usual weight-loss programs, these interventions did not prescribe specific diet plans or exercise regimes, they simply aimed to change small daily habits.

After 12 weeks, the habit-forming and habit-breaking participants had lost an average of 3.1kg. More importantly, after 12 months of no intervention and no contact, they had lost a further 2.1kg on average.

Some 67 per cent of participants reduced their total body weight by more than 5 per cent, decreasing their overall risk for developing type two diabetes and heart disease. As well as losing weight, most participants also increased their fruit and vegetable intake and improved their mental health.

Habit-based interventions have the potential to change how we think about weight management and, importantly, how we behave.

The habits in the habit-forming group, developed by Weight Concern (a UK charity) were:

Gina Cleo, Research Fellow, Bond University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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10 habits of people who lose weight and keep it off - The Australian Financial Review

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