A study into why some people are more successful than others in losing weight and maintaining weight loss, has revealed that while individuals choose different behaviour changes depending on their lifestyle, they need to be 'doing it for themselves' rather than to please others if they are going to succeed in the long term.

Published in the Open Obesity Journal, the study by Slimming World and the University of Surrey*, looked at the behaviour changes and motivations of 292 Slimming World members who had lost an average of 2st 6lbs and kept it off for 13 months.

The study looked at the key motivators for weight loss. The most popular answer for successful slimmers who were asked why they were motivated to lose weight was 'for myself', with other personal reasons such as 'to feel better about myself', 'to be healthier' and 'to feel confident about the way I look' also proving popular. At the other end of the scale reasons based around others, such as 'to please my family/friends', 'to please my doctor' and 'for a specific event/occasion' were found to be much less likely to have been a motivation for the successful slimmers.

The study also found that successful long-term slimmers attribute their continued success to a number of eating and activity-related behaviour changes. These include cooking from scratch, eating a wider variety of foods including more fruit and vegetables, having fewer pre-prepared meals, watching less TV, doing more walking and doing more work around the house.

"Losing weight isn't always easy and keeping it off can be even more of a struggle," says study author Dr James Stubbs of Slimming World. "When starting a weight loss programme, motivation is important, as it can be easy to lose heart and give up if you aren't committed. You'll feel more motivated if you're doing it for yourself rather than to please someone else, because losing weight is such a personal issue.

"Weight loss success is not just about motivation though. If you're going to keep the weight off then you need to find a diet and activity programme that fits with your lifestyle. Our study found that having to eat different foods from the rest of the family, lack of convenience and going hungry were among the most common reasons that successful slimmers had given up on their diet in the past. This study suggests that for long-term success slimmers need access to flexible solutions that are in line with individual motivations and lifestyle needs. These sorts of changes are more likely to become part of your daily routine, until a time that you don't even have to think about them."