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Participant experiences of two successful habit-based weight-loss interventions in Australia: a qualitative study
  1. Gina Cleo1,
  2. Jolyn Hersch2,
  3. Rae Thomas1
  1. 1 Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP), Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gina Cleo; gcleo{at}


Objectives Habit-based weight-loss interventions have shown clinically important weight loss and weight-loss maintenance. Understanding why habit-based interventions work is therefore of great value, but there is little qualitative evidence about the experiences of participants in such programmes. We explored the perspectives of individuals who completed two habit-based weight-management programmes, Ten Top Tips and Do Something Different.

Design One-on-one, face-to-face, semistructured interviews were conducted and analysed thematically.

Setting Participants from the community were interviewed at Bond University, Australia.

Participants Using a maximum variation design, we recruited 15 participants (eight men, seven women) aged 39–69 years (mean 53.3 years, SD 10.3) with a range of education levels (no high school to university degree) and percentage weight change on the programmes (+4.0% to −10.4%).

Main outcome measures (1) The general experience of participants who completed the Ten Top Tips or Do Something Different intervention, (2) whether and how the interventions affected the participants’ lifestyle postintervention, and (3) participants’ views regarding the acceptability and practical application of Ten Top Tips and Do Something Different.

Results Participants reported positive experiences of the two programmes, both during and after the interventions. Participants particularly enjoyed the novelty of the interventions as they shifted focus from diet and exercise, to practical everyday habit changes. They also reported indirect health benefits such as increased energy levels, increased confidence and improved self-awareness. Accountability throughout the programmes and convenience of the interventions were identified as key themes and facilitators for weight-loss success.

Conclusions This study offers insight into how and why habit-based interventions might work. Overall, Ten Top Tips and Do Something Different are practical and convenient to implement, and are viewed favourably by participants when compared with conventional lifestyle programmes for weight control.

Trial registration number ACTRN12615000114549.

  • qualitative research
  • obesity
  • behaviour change
  • habits

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  • Contributors GC and RT conceived the trial. GC conducted and analysed the interviews. GC wrote the first draft of the manuscript and JH and RT provided extensive feedback and contributed to the final paper.

  • Funding This research was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. JH is supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (APP1112509), RT is supported by an NHMRC Program Grant (APP1113532).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the Bond University Human Research Ethics Committee (RO1888B).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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