Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Parham, Ellen S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Weight loss--Psychological aspects


Many individuals in the United States attempt weight loss but few succeed in either reaching or maintaining goal weight. This study was designed to determine how the person successful in maintaining weight loss differs in life style adaptations and self esteem from one who is either partially successful or unsuccessful in losing and maintaining a weight loss. Two assumptions were investigated: Did the maintainer make adjustments in her life style to assure maintenance of weight loss that neither the nonmaintainer nor the partially successful were able to implement? And, did the maintainer have a more favorable impression of herself than either the nonmaintainer or the partially successful? The subjects tested were 66 Caucasian female adults, principally from the Chicago area, and subordinately from Bath-Hammondsport, New York; most were members of weight reduction programs. Twenty-seven were nonmaintainers; 21 were partially successful; and 18 were maintainers. A questionnaire examining six constructs of life style adaptation was designed exclusively for this study. The Tennessee Self Concept Scale was used to study the self esteem of the three groups. Analysis of the questionnaire data disclosed five areas of significant differences between the three success groups: dieting as a concern for the majority of one's life, the importance of achieving target goal weight, the number of months active in a weight reduction program, the number of positive eating habits, and the number of life style adaptations. Dieting as a concern for the majority of one's life found 61% of the maintainers, 52% of the nonmaintainers, and 86% of the partially successful responding yes to this question. Of those who hit target (47%), 50% were maintainers, 40% were nonmaintainers and 10% were partially successful. Of those who did not hit target (53%), 50% were partially successful, 40% were nonmaintainers, and 10% were maintainers. The substantial percentage of nonmaintainers and partially successful (51.7 and 41.3, respectively) active in a weight reduction program for less than six months made this question significant. Also, significant differences in the number of positive eating habits and life style adaptations, significant at the 10% and 5% level, respectively, further supported the theory that the maintainer had implemented enviable changes in both life style adaptations and self concept. As an aside, it was learned that the effect of employment on self esteem was significant, regardless of group membership. Employed women differed significantly from the unemployed on the following scales: self criticism, total positive, positive identity, positive personal self, positive physical self, and at an almost significant level, positive self satisfaction. The three success groups did not differ in their respective percentages of women employed. Distinguishable patterns emerged from the Tennessee Self Concept Scale between the nonmaintainer, the partially successful and the maintainer. The nonmaintainer, evincing the greatest range of values, exceeded the maintainer and the partially successful on some scales and was intermediate on others. Though the nonmaintainer offered a basically positive attitude, it was not as conspicuous as the maintainers. The partially successful, generally displaying the lowest values on the scales of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, exhibited the most conflict of all three three groups. Of the three groups, the maintainer, usually scoring highest on the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, manifested the most positive attitude toward herself, her behavior and environment, and her relationships with others. The scales of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale seeming to have the most potential value for the future between the three groups included: self criticism, total conflict, positive moral ethical self, positive self satisfaction, and positive social self. A discriminant analysis revealed two areas as being potentially predictive: positive eating habits and total conflict. Although not an exclusive indicator these do relate well to the results presented above and may serve as stimulus for further research, and as an aid for helping persons succeed in a weight reduction program. This thesis was approached as an interdisciplinary function of nutrition and psychology, both being interrelated and interdependent in the study of obesity. Besides the recognition that certain life style adaptations are associated with weight loss and maintenance, distinguishable patterns of self esteem also existed between the nonmaintainer, the partially successful, and the maintainer. However, more specific life style adaptations, i.e. specific changes in food attitudes, and behavior changes related to food consumption, and a "living pattern", need to be examined to further ascertain discriminating characteristics of the maintainer from both the nonmaintainer and the partially successful.


Includes bibliographical references.


v, 89 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type