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A self-determination theory approach to adults’ healthy body weight motivation: A longitudinal study focussing on food choices and recreational physical activity

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This study focuses on body weight motivation based on self-determination theory. The impact of body weight motivation on longitudinal changes in food choices, recreational physical activity and body mass index was explored. A sample of adults (N = 2917, 47% men), randomly selected from the telephone book, completed a questionnaire in two consecutive years (2012, 2013), self-reporting food choices, recreational physical activity and body weight motivation. Types of body weight motivation at T1 (autonomous regulation, introjected regulation, and external regulation) were tested with regard to their predictive potential for changes in food choices, recreational physical activity and body mass index (BMI). Autonomous motivation predicted improvements in food choices and long-term adherence to vigorous recreational physical activity in both genders. Introjected motivation predicted long-term adherence to vigorous recreational physical activity only in women. External motivation predicted negative changes in food choices; however, the type of body weight motivation had no impact on BMI in overweight adults in the long term. Autonomous goal-setting regarding body weight seems to be substantial for healthy food choices and adherence to recreational physical activity.
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Keywords: body mass index; body weight motivation; food choices; longitudinal; recreational physical activity; self-determination theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department Health Science and Technology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland 2: Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Publication date: August 3, 2015

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