Current estimates suggest that nearly 1/3 of all Americans are obese. Preventing and treating obesity has become a major industry and unless significant changes are made in how Americans eat and exercise there is every indication that the problem will increase. Some experts argue that obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions and that obesity has placed a crushing burden on the nation’s healthcare system (Carmona). Against this background, the issue of how motivation affects weight loss has been the focus of many academic and professional studies but the results of those studies has been mixed. Although motivation is likely a factor in causing an individual to begin losing weight, there are other factors that are important once the weight loss program has been commenced.
The decision to want to lose weight is important but it is not enough to keep most individuals on their diets. Like all emotions, motivation fluctuates from day to day. Regardless of one’s level of motivation there will be days when one feels like dieting and there will others when one won’t. If the dieter is relying upon his or her motivation to lose weight as the foundation of the weight loss program there is a significant likelihood that the effort will fail (Stevens). This is why so many individuals fail in their efforts to lose weight.
Battling obesity is a societal problem and it requires a societal solution. The food environment needs to be changed and attitudes toward physical activity must be altered as well. Changing the food environment requires radical action by the government and other institutions involved in the food industry to produce and market healthier food products while physical activity must begin to be viewed as enjoyable. This combination of factors will ultimately lead to a renewed interest in health and conditioning and the individual motivation to lose weight will become less important (Hagger).
Carmona, Richard H. “The Obesity Crisis in America.” Testimony before Subcommittee on Education Reform U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2003.
Hagger, M.S. Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Exercise and Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.
Stevens, Ellen Kane. The Role of Motivation and Physical Activity in a Weight Loss Program. Thesis. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University, 2011.