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Want to lose weight? Believe in yourself

May 03, 2008 14:13 IST

If you are what you eat, what you eat has a lot to do with how you think about yourself, for a study has revealed that weight loss is possible when one's self-belief is actually high.

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have carried out the study and found that self-efficacy has a strong influence on a woman's decision to do more exercise or eat more healthily.

"Self efficacy is our belief that we can produce the result we want to produce, so a person with high dietary self-efficacy believes they can eat healthily no matter what -- even when bored, upset, tired, on holiday or at a party."

"A person's level of self-efficacy determines how hard they try and how long they stick at things in the face of difficulties. People with high self-efficacy are motivated and optimistic -- when the going gets tough, they keep going."

"People with low self-efficacy avoid difficult tasks and when things get tough they are more likely to give up. We can improve our self-efficacy by developing skills, having role models and getting encouragement from others," the media quoted lead researcher Rhonda Anderson as saying.

In their study, the researchers surveyed more than 560 women aged between 51 and 66 on their exercise and diet habits and found that although women in their 50s were keen to make healthier diet and exercise changes, they had few effective strategies to draw upon.

"This is an age when women's weight tends to peak and almost two-thirds of the survey group were overweight or obese. We found being overweight or obese was a key influence on self-efficacy.

"Women who carried a lot of excess weight were more likely to have low self-efficacy and do not believe they could stick to an effective healthy exercise or diet programme. Also, education is a factor -- women with a tertiary education were likely to have self-efficacy for exercise," Anderson said.

She said that most of the women in her study, who had made an effort to exercise more, took up walking and those who had tried to eat more healthily, had cut down on fat.

"But going for a stroll and not having butter on your bread won't have you lose 30 kg. Women need specific education and support to be successful in improving their health and losing weight," she said.

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