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The effect of an augmented commercial weight loss program on increasing physical activity and reducing psychological distress in women with overweight or obesity: a randomised controlled trial

Gavin Breslin (Sport and Exercise Science Research Institute, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK)
Leeanne Sweeney (Ulster University, Belfast, UK)
Stephen Shannon (Ulster University, Belfast, UK)
Marie Murphy (Ulster University, Belfast, UK)
Donncha Hanna (Queen’s University Belfast School of Medicine Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Belfast, UK)
Mary Meade (Ulster University, Belfast, UK)
Christopher J. Armitage (School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 10 July 2019

Issue publication date: 2 June 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test the effects of augmenting an evidence-based physical activity intervention within an existing commercial weight loss program to assess effects on increasing physical activity and reducing psychological distress.

Design/methodology/approach

The CONSORT guidelines were adopted for the study. In total, 49 women with overweight or obesity (M age=39.5, SD:12.4; M Body Mass Index=31.02, SD: 2.10) enrolled in a six week commercial weight loss program were randomized to an intervention or a control group. Participants in the control group received care as usual; participants in the intervention group additionally received an evidence-based intervention to increase physical activity that included behavior change techniques including implementation intentions, goal-setting and self-monitoring.

Findings

Weekly steps increased in the intervention group (M=31,516.25; SD=9,310.17 to M=62,851.36; SD=13,840.4) significantly more (p<0.001, η p 2 =0.32) than in the control group (M=30,207.67; SD=7,833.29) to M=46,969.33 (SD=9,470.96), along with experiencing significantly lower anxiety (p<0.001, η p 2 =0.15), social dysfunction (p<0.001, η p 2 =0.16) and depression symptoms (p<0.05, η p 2 =0.08) at follow-up.

Research limitations/implications

This intervention warrants extension to those seeking to improve mental health through physical activity.

Originality/value

This study took a novel approach of augmenting a commercial weight loss program with a theory-based physical activity module, showing positive effects for physical activity behavior and psychological health.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

All authors declare that we have no conflict of interest to declare. No funding was sourced for this research project.

Citation

Breslin, G., Sweeney, L., Shannon, S., Murphy, M., Hanna, D., Meade, M. and Armitage, C.J. (2020), "The effect of an augmented commercial weight loss program on increasing physical activity and reducing psychological distress in women with overweight or obesity: a randomised controlled trial", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 145-157. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-08-2018-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited