Obesity is a growing, global public health issue. This study aimed to describe the weight management strategies used by a sample of Australian adults; examine the socio-demographic characteristics of using each strategy; and examine whether use of each strategy was associated with 12-month weight change.
This observational study involved a community-based sample of 375 healthy adults (mean age: 40.1 ± 5.8 years, 56.8% female). Participants wore a Fitbit activity monitor, weighed themselves daily, and completed eight online surveys on socio-demographic characteristics. Participants also recalled their use of weight management strategies over the past month, at 8 timepoints during the 12-month study period.
Most participants (81%) reported using at least one weight management strategy, with exercise/physical activity being the most common strategy at each timepoint (40–54%). Those who accepted their current bodyweight were less likely to use at least one weight management strategy (Odds ratio = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.22–0.64, p < 0.01) and those who reported being physically active for weight maintenance had a greater reduction in bodyweight, than those who did not (between group difference: -1.2 kg, p < 0.01). The use of supplements and fasting were associated with poorer mental health and quality of life outcomes (p < 0.01).
The use of weight management strategies appears to be common. Being physically active was associated with greater weight loss. Individuals who accepted their current body weight were less likely to use weight management strategies. Fasting and the use of supplements were associated with poorer mental health. Promoting physical activity as a weight management strategy appears important, particularly considering its multiple health benefits.