There are times when I feel like it would be easier for me to change my religious belief than to stick to a weight loss plan. I know many of you are just like me. But the latest study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics may help you lose weight successfully.
About the study
In the study, the researchers asked 97 participants of Camden Council's 'Shape Up' weight-loss program to sign a semi-formal written contract which pledged them to attend for the full 11 weeks. The study also collected data on their age, gender, diet, previous exercise experience and health attitudes.
It turned out that the participants who signed a contract were more likely to attend regularly and to complete the program than those who did not. But there was no evidence that signing a contract would directly lead to weight-loss.
Why this would happen
Contracts are a type of "nudge" and "commitment device," according to Dr. Manu Savani, who lead the study. "A 'commitment device' is any rule or strategy we use to influence our own future behavior, when we know that we might set out to do 'the right thing' but not follow through when the time comes," he said.
Although signing a contract cannot make you slim directly, it may help you stick to your weight loss plan.
"The research confirms that 'nudge' style policy instruments should not be seen as a silver bullet or a substitute for existing weight loss interventions, however, they can help with more modest behavior change goals such as taking part more actively in a group-based program, which might be the first step towards weight loss success," said Dr. Savani.
The researchers believe that such commitment device may also be used to deal with unhealthy attitudes and behaviors in the future.