Journal of Behavioral Health and Psychology. 2018; 7(3):(239-322)


Weight “locus of control” and weight management in an urban population

Trevor Simper, Matthew Keeble

Abstract

Background: To assess the extent to which weight locus of control (WLOC) relates to BMI and socioeconomic status in an urban population. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-two people responded to a questionnaire relating to body weight, health, weight management, and the “WLOC.” Questionnaires were sent to a sample of 2,600 people in Sheffield, United Kingdom. The questionnaires were distributed into diverse “ward” areas; data were collected in 2016. Results: In the present investigation, body mass index (BMI) correlated with ward area (p < 0.001) (BMI was 27.5 kg/m² ± 6.8 in ward area 1 versus 23.6 kg/m² ± 4.1 in ward area 4). The higher an individual’s BMI, the more “external” they were in relation to their perception of factors affecting weight control (p = 0.024). Higher status occupation was correlated with a greater likelihood of having an internal WLOC (p = 0.004). Having a high BMI was correlated with a concern over health (p = 0.041). Conclusions: People of higher weight and lower occupational status have more external loci of control. Key theoretical and clinical approaches to behavior change (e.g., Self-Determination Theory and Motivational Interviewing) suggest that “internality” is a desirable locus of control orientation. Consideration of the findings from the present investigation concludes that for weight management practice, professionals could focus on developing “internality.”

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