The Validated Features of Psychological Interventions for Weight Loss: An Integration

Simon A. Moss, Duygu Serbetci, Kerry O’Brien, Nektarios Alexi

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Many psychological inclinations, such as maladaptive beliefs, can diminish the capacity of individuals to manage their weight effectively and sustainably. Yet, interventions that purportedly address these psychological inclinations and improve weight management are not always beneficial. To be effective, these interventions should offer participants several choices, should be devoid of features that have not been validated in isolation, and should arrange the various activities in an efficient and effective sequence. Few if any programs fulfill these criteria. The aim of this paper was to construct an intervention that assimilates all the validated features of interventions that overcome the psychological impediments to weight loss. To achieve this goal, we blended a technique called intervention component analysis with thematic analysis. Specifically, we extracted refereed journal articles about weight loss from PsycInfo, distilled the practical recommendations from these articles, excluded recommendations that had not been validated in isolation of other features, integrated overlapping recommendations, and applied several principles to arrange these recommendations into the most effective sequence. This procedure generated an intervention that could comprise up to 43 features and activities, including self-affirmation to foster openness to change, anecdotes about dramatic improvements, ambitious rather than modest targets, an emphasis on strategies rather than targets, rewards for attempts, implementation intentions with partners, self-hypnosis, cognitive reframing, and distancing. If these features are unsuccessful, practices that demand more resources—such as group disclosure, virtual environments, motivational interviewing, and customized programs—were also recommended.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-161
    Number of pages15
    JournalBehavioral Medicine
    Issue number3
    Early online date23 Nov 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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