Mixed results for peer support when you are trying to be slimmer

women_group_clapping_500_wht_12480First of all dieters. I’ve repeated often enough that diets only work for about 10% of those who go on them, maybe 20% if we’re being generous.

recent report suggests women have tried 61 diets by the age of 45.

The best ones rely on peer support or group pressure, whichever way you want to look at it. But new research from universities in the USA and China has found that while groups such as WeightWatchers tend to be very supportive at first, they become more competitive and less likely to share tips as they become slimmer and progress towards their goal.

When consumers start working towards a goal they often feel uncertain about how to achieve the goal and see others at a similar stage as friends. They pass on helpful tips and cheer each other on.”

As they progress however they feel more confident and believe they don’t need the support from others so they become distant and keep information to themselves. At that stage only 42% said they were still providing tips and support compared with almost 80% at the start of the programme.

As the support network breaks down dieters who depended on mutual support are more likely to give up. Group weigh-ins and discussions became less sociable as the groups progressed and members grew more confident about their ability to lose weight with support.

The same problem could also apply to other group-based support programmes

The challenge is for group leaders to find ways of keeping the members engaged and preventing them giving up on their goals.

Secondly fitness programmes. Researchers at University College London found that the third week in January is when New Year resolutions start to waver. 

Using data from Facebook they found that the number of people checking in at locations with “fitness” or “gym” in the name is 10% lower in February than at the beginning of January.

January sees a 50% surge in such check-ins compared to December. As it takes 66 days to make a resolution stick and create a habit only those who stick at it until March will be successful in continuing to keep fit.

According to psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer at New York University the key to success is not to brag about it. Those who tell their friends about their goal believe they are half-way there whereas those who keep quiet about their intentions are forced to prove them through action.

Not sure I agree with that but it shows that getting fit or losing weight is as much about your state of mind, your focus, and your goal-setting as the actual activity you undertake. Having supportive friends is, I feel important, but once you start competing with them you may lose their support.



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