The use and effectiveness of behavioural modification techniques in achieving and maintaining normal weight and fitness – the lifestyle changes for adults in Cyprus

DProf thesis

Andreou, E. and Philippou, C. 2011. The use and effectiveness of behavioural modification techniques in achieving and maintaining normal weight and fitness – the lifestyle changes for adults in Cyprus. DProf thesis Middlesex University Institute of Work Based Learning.
TypeDProf thesis
TitleThe use and effectiveness of behavioural modification techniques in achieving and maintaining normal weight and fitness – the lifestyle changes for adults in Cyprus
AuthorsAndreou, E. and Philippou, C.

BACKGROUND and AIM: Research showed that behavioural modification techniques
were the most effective way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight compared to diet
and exercise alone. If behavioural modification was the most effective technique, then at
least the two thirds of the candidates (Weight Loss Candidate with Behaviour
Modification-WLCB) who used the specific behavioural modification techniques
regarding eating and physical activity would achieve a weight loss of average ½ -1kg per
week for the 18 weeks of the treatment and then maintain it or continue to lose after
treatment termination with a total treatment period of 36 weeks. The treatment was
efficient and long-lasting compared to the control candidates who followed a diet plan
only. Furthermore, if the use of behavioural modification was the most effective way for
diet and exercise, then the weight loss and maintenance would be more efficient and
long-lasting. The principal aim of this project was to develop behaviour modification
techniques (protocol and guidelines) in order to promote effective weight management
for sedentary and active Cypriot adults, concentrating on nutrition and exercise.
STUDY DESIGN: The study was quantitative and qualitative in nature using an action
research approach. Furthermore, it was observational and longitudinal using structured
methods and a representative sample of adults 19-50 years of age is investigated for 36
METHODS: Anthropometric data and health and diet history were taken using standard
methods from 315 (the control and intervention group (1:1) Cypriot adults from rural and
urban areas.
Individualised diet plans, personalised physical activities as well as behavioural
modification parameters were assessed with the aid of a questionnaire, interview, food
and exercise diary and behavioural checklist. Obesity and overweight were defined using
the current International Obesity Task Force definition. The validated questionnaires for
Physical Activity (IPAQ) and the nutritional assessment (National Integrated Health
Associates) were used for initial assessment and the behavioural checklists were used for
the follow up. Behavioural checklists were completed by the candidates on a bi-weekly
basis along with the food and exercise diary. The questionnaire reliability (test-retest),
internal consistency and ability to differentiate obese vs. normal-weight adult behaviours
were tested using a pilot population of 50 adults not enrolled in a formal weight loss
programme. Its reliability (checklists, food and exercise diary) and predictive validity
were tested using a selective population: 265 adults of the observational group enrolled in
behavioural modification treatment vs. diet.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY: Τhe objectives of the research were
a) The study of every aspect of weight management and thus be capable of making
suggestions for the development of guidelines and protocols for behavioural
modification to health professionals working with the public.
b) The identification and adjustment of eating and exercise behaviour related to body
weight in order to achieve an efficient weight management in Cypriot
overweight/obese adults.
c) The evaluation of the effectiveness of the modest lifestyle changes in weight
management induced by short-term energy/calorie restriction and behaviour
modification in overweight and obese Greek Cypriots with Body Mass Index (BMI)
above 25 or 30 respectively, or body weight 20% or above of Ideal Body weight
(IBW), or body fat above normal levels.
d) The development of education and counselling protocols and guidelines for
professionals for weight management protocols based on the Mediterranean Diet
and the eating and exercise habits of Cypriot Adults.
e) The implementation of the protocols to intervention groups in order to identify the
OUTCOMES: The outcomes of the project was the development of an education and
counselling protocol/manual which included teaching tools and guidelines for
professionals for weight management with the title “Protocol and Guidelines for
professional users for weight management for Adults: assessment, categorization,
therapy/ follow up of overweight and obesity”. The development of an eating behaviour
and physical activity protocol/manual based on the Mediterranean Diet and the
demonstrated eating and exercise habits of Cypriot Adults can be used by the
stakeholders and the public for efficient and effective weight management.
RESULTS: The average length of weight loss treatment was 18 weeks for the
intervention and the control groups, and the average weight loss for the intervention
group was 11.96kg (t-test, p-value ≤ 0.001) and for the control group was 5.56kg
(t-test, p-value≤ 0.002). During the 18 weeks of the maintenance period the 50% of the
intervention group continued to lose while, an additional 48% of them maintained the
weight and only 2% of them gained weight.
CONCLUSIONS: To conclude, the prevalence of obesity worldwide has reached
epidemic proportions. Physical inactivity and poor diet have been identified as primary
contributors to the leading causes of death in developed countries including Cyprus. It is
unfortunate that more emphasis is given to calorie restriction dieting rather than
behavioural modification for diet and physical activity in achieving and maintaining
weight loss. The fact is that incorporating appropriate behavioural modification
techniques for diet and sufficient physical activity into one’s life is an essential
component of achieving a healthy body weight.
The research project aimed at developing a behavioural approach and behavioural
modification techniques for the treatment of obesity and weight management adjusted to
the needs of the Cypriot adult population. The difference of this approach underlines the
emphasis that has to be given to the follow-up programme for the maintenance of the
weight loss through behavioural modification. This approach evolved from the
environmental control of eating behaviour to a broader approach characterized by
systematic manipulation of all factors associated with eating and exercise patterns. The
need for the project derives from the fact that obesity is a chronic condition with a
substantial potential for relapse; therefore long–term treatments are needed. The
expected outcomes of this project are the development of guidelines and protocols to be
used by health professionals. The ultimate goal is the reduction of the obesity epidemic
in Cyprus.

Research GroupWork and Learning Research Centre
Department nameInstitute of Work Based Learning.
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print11 May 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited11 May 2012
CompletedApr 2011
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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