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Background: Achieving a sustained energy deficit is essential for weight loss, but the cognitive and behavioral strategies that support this goal are unclear. Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate the number and type of cognitive and behavioral strategies used by participants who were enrolled in a 1-year weight loss trial and to explore associations between strategies and magnitude of weight loss at 3 months and 1 year. Design: The study is a secondary post-hoc exploratory analysis of data collected as part of the Doctor Referral of Overweight People to Low-Energy total diet replacement Treatment (DROPLET), a randomized controlled trial conducted in general practices in England, United Kingdom, between January 2016 and August 2017. Participants/setting: This study involved 164 participants from both intervention and control groups of the DROPLET trial who completed the Oxford Food and Behaviours (OxFAB) questionnaire to assess the use of 115 strategies grouped into 21 domains used to manage their weight. Interventions: Participants were randomized to either a behavioral weight loss program involving 8 weeks total diet replacement (TDR) and 4 weeks of food reintroduction or a program delivered by a medical practice nurse over a 3-month period (usual care [UC]). Main outcome measures: Weight was objectively measured at baseline, 3 months, and 1 year. Cognitive and behavioral strategies used to support weight loss were assessed using the OxFAB questionnaire at 3 months. Statistical analysis performed: Exploratory factor analysis was used to generate data-driven patterns of strategy use, and a linear mixed-effects model was used to examine associations between use of these patterns and weight change. Results: No evidence was found of a difference in the number of strategies (mean difference, 2.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.83, 5.65) or the number of domains used (mean difference, −0.23; 95% CI, −0.69, 0.23) between the TDR group and the UC group. The number of strategies was not associated with weight loss at either 3 months (−0.02 kg; 95% CI, −0.11, 0.06) or 1 year (−0.05 kg; 95% CI, −0.14, 0.02). Similarly, the number of domains used was not associated with weight loss at 3 months (−0.02 kg; 95% CI, −0.53, 0.49) or 1 year (−0.07 kg; 95% CI, −0.60, 0.46). Factor analysis identified four coherent patterns of strategy use, identified as Physical Activity, Motivation, Planned Eating, and Food Purchasing patterns. Greater use of strategies in the Food Purchasing (−2.6 kg; 95% CI, −4.42, −0.71) and Planned Eating patterns (−3.20 kg; 95% CI, −4.94, −1.46) was associated with greater weight loss at 1 year. Conclusions: The number of cognitive and behavioral strategies or domains used does not appear to influence weight loss, but the types of strategy appear of greater importance. Supporting people to adopt strategies linked to planned eating and food purchasing may aid long-term weight loss.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Publication Date





1417 - 1428.e17