06:12am Sunday 17 December 2017

Getting to the bottom of weight regain

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Fast food gets blamed, genetics gets blamed, peoples’ jobs are blamed, but no one has come up with an effective model for preventing or treating obesity.

The 30-year-old Griffith Health Institute researcher hopes to solve at least some of the mysteries associated with obesity through a PhD investigation into why, even if people manage to lose weight, they put it back on.

He is seeking at least 1000 volunteers to take part in an extensive online survey that explores a range of factors associated with obesity.

“I’m looking for people from all walks of life, of all shapes and sizes to take part,” he says.

“I need people who are overweight, underweight and the perfect weight to participate in the study so the findings can be as definitive as possible.

“I’m hoping the study can go national and incorporate a genuine cross-section of the Australian population.”

The survey covers age, gender, anxiety, stress, depression, exercise, sleeping habits, socioeconomic background and family history of weight loss or weight gain.

It also examines the motivations for weight loss, from better health to the desire to fit into a little black dress. Information, opinions and beliefs on eating behaviour and nutritional knowledge is also sought.

“I want to know the psychological factors that differentiate people who can shed the weight permanently from those who put it back on,” he says.

The psychology graduate says it is a subject not unfamiliar to him. “I’m 30 this year and for 25 years I’ve struggled with my weight.”

As a 24-year-old he was classified as obese, and embarked on a weight loss mission that saw him lose a substantial amount of weight, leaving him only slightly overweight.

It was around this time he came up with the question and pilot program that would eventually form the foundation of his PhD study.

He had previously completed degrees in Behavioural Science and Psychology at Griffith University’s Mt Gravatt campus.

More than 80 percent of those who lose weight not only put it back on but add to it within three to five years.

Jacques has managed to stay ahead of those odds by a margin, struggling with substantial weight regain but managing to maintain 25 percent of the original weight loss for six years.

“How do I differ from those that have lost similar amounts of weight and kept it off? What about those that have regained all their weight and more?

“What about those individuals who have maintained a healthy weight their entire adult life?

“These are the questions I’m so interested in answering – and this is why it’s so crucial I pick the brains of not just people waging a war against the bulge like me, but those who can’t relate to that experience at all, and everything in between.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the survey can either contact Jacques on J.Rizk@griffith.edu.au or (07) 3735 3313. The survey link can be accessed at https://prodsurvey.rcs.griffith.edu.au/weight-study


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