The present study examines whether sex differences in behavioral and psychological variables related to weight control are explained by sex differences in weight standards and prior history of dieting. The predictive value of these sex differences for subsequent outcome in a behavioral weight-loss program was also examined. Women (N = 88) reported (a) more dieting behavior (both past and present), (b) leaner standards of desired weight, (c) more knowledge of weight-loss methods and nutrition, and (d) more motivational barriers to weight control than men (N = 98). Men reported (a) more knowledge barriers to weight control, and (b) higher levels of physical activity. Sex differences in motivational barriers, nutrition knowledge, and some of the weight-loss behaviors were eliminated by controlling statistically for weight standards and dieting history. Weight losses at 6, 12, and 18 months were consistently related to only two of the variables discriminating between men and women. Positive eating behaviors, such as eating diet foods and limiting food quantity, were prospectively related to less weight loss. Stimulus-control eating behaviors, such as eating only in one location, were prospectively related to greater weight loss. Men and women differed little in weight loss success. Since few behavioral and psychological variables were related to weight loss, different emphases in weight-loss treatments for men and women are not clearly indicated.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants 5R01 HL41332 and 5T32 HLO7328 to Robert W. Jeffery, and 5ROl HL41330 to Rena R. Wing. Requests for reprints should be sent to Simone A. French, University of Minnesota. Division of Epidemiology, 1300 S. 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1015.