Waiting to be in the right frame of mind before embarking on a weight loss journey might be a thing of the past. A new study by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has found that initial mindset was not the best predictor for weight loss success.
The study indicates that the strongest predictor of achieving clinically significant weight loss was engagement with the right digital support tools, rather than being in the right mindset when starting a diet.
The findings come from a recent analysis of 11,000 Australians that responded to a mindset survey before completing the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet 12-week weight loss program.
The mindset survey looked at motivation levels around healthy eating and being more active. The analysis found that those with the lowest levels of motivation lost the most weight.
Members who reported being disengaged in healthy eating before starting the program lost 6.5 per cent of their starting body weight, and those feeling disengaged in being more active lost 6.3 per cent of their starting body weight.
More broadly, members who completed the program lost an average of 5.3kgs, the equivalent of 5.8 per cent of their starting weight.
CSIRO Research Scientist and report author, Dr Gilly Hendrie said the research was further evidence of the role science-backed tools have in driving greater weight loss.
“The research findings are significant, given that a five per cent reduction in body weight is proven to markedly lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and improve metabolic function in obese and overweight people,” Dr Hendrie said.
“The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has a range of self-monitoring tools in place to keep Australians on track to achieve their weight loss goals, including its food and exercise tracker, positive psychology tools, and access to the supportive community of members," she said.
CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet member, Toby from Adelaide said that access to support tools played a critical part in motivating him to achieve his 20kg weight loss.
“Prior to starting the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, I felt miserable. I didn’t like the way I looked, I had low energy levels and I was at risk of developing diabetes and other health issues. I ate a lot of takeaway and didn’t do any exercise. I pretty much gave up on managing my weight as nothing really worked, leaving me unmotivated, and falling off the wagon. My will power is limited, so I knew I needed practical tools that would work," Toby said.
“The meal planner and food and exercise tracker offered by the program were game changers. Instead of feeling confused and eating aimlessly, I am now confident in my knowledge, and have a structure in place to help me know what will nourish my body and keep me full, without the sacrifice. The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet community support network also kept me motivated during slumps along the way.
“Without the tools offered by the program I wouldn’t have been successful in losing weight. It would have been too hard," he said.
Developed by CSIRO behavioural scientists, the mindset survey taps the outlook of people contemplating a weight control program, asking about motivation and where people are at with healthy eating, being more active and managing their weight.
Since its January 2020 launch, over 128,000 Australians have completed the survey, with many going on to join the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program.
Amongst the 128,000 Australians who have taken the quiz, 86 per cent identified health as a key motivator when looking to embark on a weight loss program, with 78 per cent of respondents aspiring to be happy.
CSIRO Research Scientist, Dr Emily Brindal said while Australians appreciate the value of a healthy and happy lifestyle, the act of changing eating and activity habits is hard, and long-term weight management is an ongoing challenge.
“These results show that mindset changes throughout a weight loss journey. Motivation increases with success, and this can have a positive effect on mindset, so how you feel when you begin a weight loss journey is not necessarily going to determine your overall success,” Dr Brindal said.