The road to weight loss can be a challenging one, with many individuals struggling to stick to their goals and stay committed to their program. In the past, weight management programs have tried to address this issue by focusing on behavioural interventions. However, recent research conducted by behavior change and mental wellness services provider, Noom, suggests that the language used by individuals during these programs may also play a crucial role in their success or failure.
Researchers at Noom's used Receptiviti's LIWC framework to analyze the language used by individuals during their weight management program to better understand the psychological predictors of weight management program success.
The study examined two types of language: "goal setting" language (i.e., language used in setting a goal at the start of the program) and "goal striving" language (i.e., language used in conversations with a coach about the process of striving for goals), to explore whether they were associated with attrition and weight loss. The findings revealed that the strongest effects emerged for goal striving language with psychologically distanced language (i.e., focused on abstract or analytical connections between concepts) associated with more weight loss and less attrition, while psychologically immediate language (e.g., focused on the details of the present moment) was associated with less weight loss and higher attrition.
The study's results have important implications for the future of weight management programs. By using Receptiviti to understand the language markers that are associated with better outcomes, providers like Zoom can better tailor their interventions to help individuals achieve their goals. Additionally, the findings identify the opportunity to use Receptiviti's real-time language analysis to automate the identification of individuals at high risk of suboptimal outcomes, which could further improve program efficacy.
The study was conducted using data from actual participants in weight management programs rather than being conducted using a controlled trial, which is a significant contribution to the field of weight management and behavior change. Previous research has explored the role of language in other areas, such as academic performance and emotional control, but this study is the first of its kind to explore the association between language use and weight management outcomes.
Overall, Noom's study highlights the importance of language analysis in improving program efficacy. By identifying and addressing language markers associated with better outcomes, weight management programs can better support individuals in achieving their weight management goals and behavior change objectives.
Read the full study here: Goal language is associated with attrition and weight loss on a digital program: Observational study