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Background: Goal setting aids health-related behavior changes; however, the influence of different types of goals on weight loss remains unclear. Objective: We aimed to investigate the association of 3 aspects of goal setting with weight and program dropout over a 24-week period. Methods: This study was a prospective longitudinal analysis of participants in a 12-week digital behavioral weight loss program. Weight and engagement data for eligible participants (N=36,794) were extracted from the database. Eligible participants were adults in the United Kingdom who had enrolled in the program, had a BMI ≥25 kg/m2, and a weight reading recorded at baseline. Three aspects of goal setting were self-reported at enrollment: weight loss motivation (appearance, health, fitness, or self-efficacy), overall goal preference (low, medium, or high), and percentage weight loss goal (<5%, 5%-10%, or >10%). Weight was measured at 4, 12, and 24 weeks. Mixed models for repeated measures were used to explore the association between goals and weight across the 24-week period. To measure sustained weight change, the primary outcome was weight at 24 weeks. We explored dropout rates over the 24-week period by goal and whether engagement mediated the association between goals and weight loss. Results: Of the 36,794 participants (mean 46.7, SD 11.1 years; 33,902/36,794, 92.14% female) included in the cohort, 13.09% (n=4818) reported weight at 24 weeks. Most participants set goals of 5%-10% weight loss (23,629/36,794, 64.22%), but setting goals for >10% was associated with greater weight loss (mean difference 5.21 kg, 95% CI 5.01-5.41; P10% were less likely to drop out compared with 5%-10% goals (odds ratio [OR] 0.40, 95% CI 0.38-0.42; P

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Journal article


Journal of Medical Internet Research

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