The effect of physical activity on weight loss is mediated by eating self-regulation

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Objective: This study tested whether different forms of physical activity (PA) were associated with eating self-regulation during weight control, and if changes in eating behavior mediated the relationship between PA and weight loss, in overweight/obese women. Methods: 239 women (37.6±7.0 years; 31.3±4.1kg/m2) participated. The intervention group received a 12-month group behavioral treatment designed to increase autonomy and self-regulation for weight control. Controls received a health education program. Assessments included body weight, structured and lifestyle exercise/PA, and eating self-regulation. Results: Moderate. +. vigorous and lifestyle PA were associated with 12-month change in most eating variables (p<0.05) and with body weight change (p<0.01). Mediation analysis showed that flexible cognitive restraint and emotional eating fully mediated the relation between lifestyle PA and weight change (effect ratio: 0.63). About 34% of the effect of moderate. +. vigorous PA on weight change was explained by these same mediators (partial mediation). Conclusion: Exercise and PA may positively influence weight control through eating self-regulation. Flexible dietary control and reduced emotional overeating are mechanisms by which an active lifestyle can contribute to long-term weight management. Practice implications: Regular exercise and PA can contribute to improved eating behaviors during weight management. This could represent an important incentive for people seeking weight control. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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Patient Education and Counseling