A descriptive study of the array of weight loss options available in a midwestern area
Kijewski, Rebecca Lynn
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Obesity continues to be a widespread condition in the United States. Unfortunately, most efforts to lose excess weight and keep it off are unsuccessful. One possible explanation for this fact is that individuals may not be choosing a weight loss program that is best suited to their particular needs. Most studies of weight loss programs ignore the multiple etiology of obesity and assume that one program can serve all individuals. This study was based on the theory that individuals vary widely in their needs of a weight control program. Therefore, a community should offer various options in weight loss programming. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of weight loss programs available in one area. A non-probability purposeful sampling method was used to select weight loss programs from four adjoining midwestem communities. There was a total of thirty organizations which offered weight control services. However, only programs which included a nutrition component as their main focus were included in the study. Of the eighteen eligible programs in the area, nine agreed to participate. Program representatives were interviewed using a list of fifty-five questions which focused on the program’s background, cost, structure, screening procedures, target population, major components, staff, leadership style, and philosophy. A detailed description of each program was then compiled based on this information. The results of the study indicate that a variety of weight loss options was available in the study area. The greatest variability of the programs which were included in the study appeared to be related to the weight loss diet utilized by the various programs. All of the programs reviewed included the components of dietary management, behavioral change, and physical activity, although to varying degrees. The majority of the programs did not offer an individualized approach to weight control and emphasized general behavioral changes and exercise recommendations for all clients. Additionally, most programs appeared to employ a paternalistic or moralistic approach to educate clients.