Regulatory focus, proximity to goal weight, and weight loss maintenance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: Regulatory focus theory proposes 2 self-regulatory orientations: promotion focus. related to achieving aspirations and positive outcomes. and prevention focus. related to fulfilling responsibilities and preventing negative outcomes. The investigation examined whether regulatory focus and proximity to goal weight moderated the effectiveness of a weight-loss maintenance intervention. Methods: Participants who lost ≥10% of their weight were assigned to guided or self-directed treatments and completed regulatory focus and weight goal measures. Results: Across treatment groups, people who were more promotion-focused had better 2-year maintenance rates (defined as regain <25%) than people who were less promotion-focused, especially if far from their goal weight (.59 versus.44). In the guided group, people who were more prevention-focused had better maintenance rates than people who were less prevention-focused if closer to their goal weight (.69 versus.42), but poorer maintenance rates if farther from their goal (.36 versus.72). In the self-directed group, prevention focus was unrelated to maintenance. Conclusions: Regulatory focus and proximity to goal weight moderated intervention effectiveness. Maintenance may be enhanced by tailoring treatments to regulatory focus and goal weight (eg, prevention-focused people far from their goals may need extra weight-loss support before focusing on maintenance).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-720
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of health behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Regulatory focus
  • Weight loss maintenance


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