Behavioral Strategy Studies to Help Keep People on Healthy Diets

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Weight loss resolutions, though common among New Year’s resolvers, are notoriously hard to maintain. According to a nationwide survey, 51% of adults reported a desire to lose weight last year but only half as many were seriously working toward that goal (Gallup, 2013). One study found that among 135 college students who had made one or more New Year’s resolution(s), nearly 40% resolved to lose weight yet all were unsuccessful (Marlatt and Kaplan, 1972). Given the amount of effort and dedication required to achieve and maintain weight loss, it is not surprising that it remains merely a good intention for so many who are not yet willing or able to make such a change. Fortunately, decades of research from the likes of Albert Bandura and B. F. Skinner have led to the development of principles and strategies that, when employed in everyday life, can effectively manipulate behavior and increase the likelihood of successful behavior change. In the Marlatt and Kaplan (1972) study of college students mentioned above, subjects who agreed to participate (both those who resolved to lose weight and an equal number who did not) were randomly assigned to either a monitored or unmonitored condition. The four groups were as follows: (1) monitored resolvers who were weighed four times throughout the 12 week study; (2) unmonitored resolvers who were weighed only at the beginning and end of the study; (3) monitored non-resolvers; and (4) a control group of unmonitored non-resolvers. After

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