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Background Behavioral weight-loss treatments have generally been unsuccessful, and young-adult participants have been underrepresented in related research. This investigation assessed effects of the new Weight Loss For Life protocol in a university sample of young women through contrasts with older-age women.
Methods Women with class 1 and 2 obesity from either a university (n = 37, Mage = 20.4 years) or a community wellness setting (n = 37, Mage = 45.0 years) were volunteer participants. The same cognitive-behavioral weight-loss protocol was administered to both groups. One-on-one physical activity-support sessions supported self-regulatory skills, self-efficacy, and mood improvements so they would carry-over to controlled eating during bi-weekly group nutrition sessions.
Results The university group consumed fewer fruits/vegetables and completed more physical activity at baseline than the older group. However, significant improvements over 6 months in those variables, sweets intake, and weight (-4.5% and -6.1%, respectively) did not significantly differ. Age group also did not affect the significant prediction of 6-month changes in physical activity and fruit/vegetable intake, by 3-month changes in self-regulation, self-efficacy, and mood (R -values = .26 and .35, respectively).
Conclusion Tenets of social cognitive theory that formed the basis of the Weight Loss For Life curriculum were supported for both age groups, and were associated with similar positive effects over 6 months. Extensions of the research require testing over longer periods.