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Early Engagement is Associated with Better Weight Loss in Emerging Adults

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Objectives: Predictors of success among emerging adults (EAs; ages 18-25) within behavioral weight loss (BWL) trials are largely unknown. We examined whether early program engagement predicted overall engagement and weight loss in EAs. Methods: Data were pooled from 2 randomized controlled pilot trials in EAs. Participants (N = 99, 80% female, BMI = 33.7±5.1 kg/m2) received a 3-month BWL intervention. Weight was objectively assessed at 0 and 3 months; engagement was tracked weekly; retention was assessed at 3 months. Results: Greater engagement during the initial 4 weeks of treatment predicted greater weight loss (p = .001). Compared to those who did not engage in all 4 initial weeks, participants meeting this threshold experienced greater overall engagement (9.6 vs 4.2 weeks, p < .001), weight losses (intent-to-treat = -3.8% vs -1.3%, p = .004), and retention (78% vs 53%, p = .012). Conclusions: Early engagement in BWL is associated with better outcomes among EAs. Monitoring engagement in real-time during the initial 4 weeks of treatment may be necessary to intervene effectively. Early engagement did not vary by sex or race; future work should identify characteristics associated with poor early engagement.
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Keywords: BEHAVIORAL WEIGHT LOSS; EMERGING ADULTS; ENGAGEMENT; YOUNG ADULTS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Department of Health Behavior and Policy, Richmond, VA;, Email: [email protected] 2: Research Associate, The Miriam Hospital Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Providence, RI 3: Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Department of Health Behavior and Policy, Richmond, VA 4: Postdoctoral Fellow, Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, Healthy Lifestyles Center, Richmond, VA

Publication date: July 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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