Research Research and Professional Brief| Volume 107, ISSUE 10, P1807-1810, October 2007

Comparison of Techniques for Self-Monitoring Eating and Exercise Behaviors on Weight Loss in a Correspondence-Based Intervention


      This study examined whether different methods of self-monitoring eating and exercise behaviors affect the process of self-monitoring and change in body weight in overweight adults. Forty-two subjects participated in a 16-week correspondence-based weight-loss intervention using a pretest–posttest randomized design. Dietary intake was prescribed at 1,200 to 1,500 kcal/day and <30% dietary fat. Physical activity was progressed to 200 minutes/week. Participants were randomly assigned to self-monitoring eating and physical activity behaviors using a traditional detailed method or transitioning to an abbreviated method. Transitioning to an abbreviated method returned significantly more diaries than using a traditional detailed method (P=0.04). Participants completing the study showed no significant difference in weight loss between the traditional detailed method (−7.5±5.3 kg) and the abbreviated method (−7.6±5.5 kg), with similar results for intention-to-treat analysis (detailed method −3.9±5.3 kg vs abbreviated method −4.3±5.8 kg). Weight loss was significantly associated with number of self-monitoring diaries completed (r=0.53, P<0.05). Findings suggest the self-monitoring process, rather than the detail of self-monitoring, is important for facilitating weight loss and change in eating and physical activity behaviors. Transitioning to a simplified approach to self-monitoring does not negatively affect short-term weight loss in overweight adults. These results may have implications for improving self-monitoring in overweight adults during periods of weight loss.
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      D. L. Helsel is an assistant professor, Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, J. M. Jakicic is chair, Department of Health and Physical Activity, and director, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, and A. D. Otto is a research assistant professor, Department of Health and Physical Activity, and assistant director, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.