The role of self-regulatory skills and automaticity on the effectiveness of a brief weight loss habit-based intervention: Secondary analysis of the 10 top tips randomised trial

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Abstract

Background: Habit-interventions are designed to promote the automaticity of healthy behaviours and may also enhance self-regulatory skills during the habit-formation process. A recent trial of habit-based advice for weight loss (10 Top Tips; 10TT), found that patients allocated to 10TT lost significantly more weight over 3 months than those allocated to usual care, and reported greater increases in automaticity for the target behaviours. The current study aimed to test the hypothesis that i) 10TT increased self-regulatory skills more than usual care, and ii) that self-regulatory skills and automaticity changes mediated the effect of 10TT on weight loss. Methods: 537 obese patients from 14 primary care practices in the UK were randomized to receive 10TT or usual care. Patients in the 10TT group received a leaflet containing tips for weight loss and healthy habits formation, a self-monitoring log book and a wallet-sized shopping guide on how to read food labels. Patients were weighed and completed validated questionnaires for self-regulation and automaticity at baseline and 3-month follow-up. Within-group and Between-group effects were explored using Paired T-test and ANCOVA, respectively. Mediation was assessed using bootstrapping to estimate indirect effects and the sobel test. Results: Over 3 months patients who were given 10TT reported greater increases in self-regulatory skills (Mean difference:.08; 95% CI.01;.15) than those who received usual care. Changes in self-regulatory skills and automaticity over 3 months mediated the effect of the intervention on weight loss (β = .52, 95% Bias Corrected CI.17;.91). Conclusions: As hypothesised, 10TT enhanced self-regulatory skills and changes in self-regulatory skills and automaticity mediated the effect of the intervention on weight loss. This supports the proposition that self-regulatory training and habit formation are important features of weight loss interventions. Trial registration: This study was prospectively registered with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials ( ISRCTN16347068 ) on 26 September 2011.

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Kliemann, N., Vickerstaff, V., Croker, H., Johnson, F., Nazareth, I., & Beeken, R. J. (2017). The role of self-regulatory skills and automaticity on the effectiveness of a brief weight loss habit-based intervention: Secondary analysis of the 10 top tips randomised trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0578-8

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