Greater Average Meal Planning Frequency Predicts Greater Weight Loss Outcomes in a Worksite-Based Behavioral Weight Loss Program

Jacqueline F. Hayes, Katherine N. Balantekin, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Joshua J. Jackson, Danielle R. Ridolfi, Holley S. Boeger, R. Robinson Welch, Denise E. Wilfley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Planning in behavioral weight loss (BWL) programs helps participants enact changes in eating and exercise, although the direct impact on weight loss is unclear. Purpose: To examine how meal and exercise planning frequencies change in a BWL program and their relations to weight loss outcomes. Methods: Participants (N = 139) in a 40 week worksite-based BWL program completed a questionnaire regarding meal and exercise planning frequency at Weeks 0, 10, 20, 30, and 40 and were weighed weekly. Growth curve models were used to determine trajectories in meal and exercise planning frequency and to assess the role of an individual's average meal and exercise planning (between-person effect) and individual variation in planning (within-person effect) on body mass index (BMI). Results: The best-fitting model, a linear random effect with a quadratic fixed-effect model, demonstrated that meal and exercise planning frequency increased over the course of the program with slowing growth rates. Between participants, higher average meal planning frequency (B = -0.029, t = -3.60), but not exercise planning frequency, was associated with greater weight loss. Within participants, exercise planning, but not meal planning, predicted a higher than expected BMI (B = 3.17, t = 4.21). Conclusions: Frequent meal planning should be emphasized as a continued, as opposed to intermittent, goal in BWL programs to enhance weight loss. Average exercise planning frequency does not impact weight loss in BWL programs; however, acute increases in exercise planning frequency may be a popular coping strategy during a weight loss setback or, alternatively, may lead to increased calorie consumption and weight gain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Behavioral weight loss
  • Obesity
  • Planning
  • Worksite-based intervention


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