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Desire to please others could hinder weight loss in women: study

(Xinhua)

10:18, September 13, 2012

WELLINGTON, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Middle-aged women are more likely to lose weight if they do so to keep themselves happy rather than to keep their husbands or partners happy, according to a New Zealand study.

Researchers at Otago University studied 1,600 New Zealand women aged between 40 and 50 in the first nationwide research of its kind anywhere to examine the link between motivation and body weight.

The women were asked to rate the degree to which each different style of motivation for eating healthily applied to them, and were surveyed on their specific food and eating habits.

More self-determined and autonomous reasons for eating healthily included enjoying creating healthy meals or viewing eating healthily as integral to one's lifestyle or values, study co-author Dr Caroline Horwath said in a statement Monday.

More "controlled" motivation involved reasons such as being nagged to eat healthily or feeling expected to do so.

"We found that every 10-unit increase in women's scores for autonomous motivation to eat healthily was associated with a 1.4- kilogram lower body weight, which was equivalent to a 2-percent lower BMI (body mass index) in a woman of average BMI," said Horwath.

The results suggested that even a modest decrease in controlled motivation could equate to almost 1 kg lower weight, she said.

"As women in this age bracket are known to be at high risk of weight gain, this amount of weight loss could be important in reducing their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease," she said.

The research also indicated that controlled motivation to eat healthily was closely linked to more frequent binge eating.

"So, interventions that improve women's sense of autonomy could be useful in reducing unhealthy eating behaviours that may potentially lead to weight gain," she said.

The research appears in the September issue of the U.S.-based Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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