Analyzing Health Psychology Issues Essay

Length: 15 pages Sources: 15 Subject: Health - Nursing Type: Essay Paper: #72843281 Related Topics: Alcoholics Anonymous, Educational Psychology, Nicotine, Smoking Cessation
Excerpt from Essay :

Health Psychology Issues

Health psychology is the field of study in which psychological and behavioral factors of health, sickness, and wellness are examined. This paper has three parts in which the first part is dedicated to an investigation of a health psychology topic along with a broad literature review; the second part reviews a recovery process aided by a self-help group; the third part encompasses presents a behavioral health prevention report.

People are becoming more health conscious than they used to be a few years back and as a result, they are opting for healthier food options. Although diet plans and exercise programs play a major role in weight loss but the imperative role is that of human cognitive processes that persuade one to stay healthy (Smith, n.d.). Human mind is responsible for making everyday decisions, such as what to eat, and in what quantities, hence, the weight loss greatly depends on human psychology. Physical activity is essential for obesity management; however, psychology requires weight management strategies for long-term weight control. Hence, the topic of health psychology selected for this paper is 'effectiveness of psychological strategies in adhering to diet and exercise programs'.

Hypothesis: Do psychological strategies help people adhere to diet or/and exercise programs?

Literature Review

Health is referred to as the condition of holistic physical, psychological, and societal well-being (Sartorius, 2006, p. 662). It indicates that absence of disease is health where the body and mind are able to cope with all activities of daily life efficiently, so that a balance between himself and the social environment is maintained. Deducted from this, another meaningful field took roots, called 'health psychology', defined as the promotion and maintenance of health so that diseases are prevented and health is continuously improved (Thielke, Thompson, & Stuart, 2011, p. 60).

It would not be wrong to say that health psychology promotes physical and mental health, and with physical health comes weight management. It has been studied widely that mental states such as happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, and such facets tend to have a direct effect on the physical conditions. Therefore, many people are observed to have eaten more when they are sad or they are happy. It is their mind that plays a major role on their weight; hence, managing weight becomes obligatory. On the other hand, poor diet or poor habits such as smoking cigarettes can lead to unhealthy lifestyles that ultimately results in diseases.

It has been investigated that applying psychological techniques for assessing patient developments can be the causative to making effective use of health psychology. Health outcomes are measured from patient's outcomes and the same stands true for weight loss; when an individual wants to lose weight and towards that aim is willing to adhere to diet and exercise plans. The health care providers can rely on psychological strategies, such as psychometrics and experimental designs in the field of health psychology (Kaplan, 2009).

Weight loss is gaining popularity in recent times since people are becoming more health conscious; yet, a large percentage of population around the world needs weight management. In order to achieve sustainable success in such endeavor, mind has to be won over with behavioral techniques in order to stick to the diet plans or exercise programs for an effective weight loss. A recent study mentioned 'behavioral weight loss program' that contains reduced energy intake, high energy exertion and usage of behavioral approaches like goal setting and self-monitoring in order to lose weight efficaciously (Burke, Wang, & Sevick, 2012, p. 92). The feature presents a systematic literature review of the articles that were published from 1993 to 2009. It was studied that self-monitoring was mainly done by maintaining a paper diary diligently. Weights were reported frequently exhibiting high adherence to self-monitoring techniques. The study is significant in portraying the self-monitoring was only possible when the mind was willing for weight loss. The self-monitored behavior...


For this purpose, a study was conducted by taking a sample of 90 middle aged participants who attended weight loss programs (Nakade et al., 2012). They were monitored for one year and were categorized as successful weight managers (SWM) and unsuccessful weight managers (USWM). The results showed that the SWM participants exercised more and had higher physical activities, felt less stressed, kept more records of their weight and high self-efficacy for measuring weight and attaining dietary goals as compared to USWM participants. This means that the behaviors that are necessary for successful w weight management are self-efficacy in measuring weight, following diet plans, and determination to exercise daily. All of these actions are directly linked to health psychology making it a vital component in achieving weight loss.

It is well understood that weight loss required mental strength as well as physical activities such as exercises and workout plan along with strict diet for obese people; however, cognitive procedures could be used in accordance with these strategies (Grave et al., 2011, p. 1). Barrier to physical activity might not be overcome by an individual but group support might make difference. It is related to human psychology that support can create willingness for weight loss and motivation for continuation of exercise and diet plans. According to 'stage of change' theory, people will never adhere to exercise counseling in the contemplation or pre-contemplation stages whereas people will intend to continue exercise in the preparation stage as they have already made up their mind to do so. Long-term motivation is linked to weight loss, based highly on 'self-efficacy'. It is the ability of a person to believe that he can carry out the change in behaviors and that is imperative for weight loss, once the person thinks that he can do it. For that, cognitive behavioral strategies, the foremost being 'motivation' is used to change people's perceptions towards exercising when the clinical doctors try to convince the obese patients by telling them the benefits of exercise and weight loss on their overall health. This can also be referred to as educating the patients about weight loss and its benefits, and for that, sometimes the health care providers make a "pros and cons to change" table in which the obese patients can be asked to mention their statements for and against for adopting a healthy lifestyle. Some other useful techniques include assessing patients' activity levels, stating activity goals to each patient individually, self-monitoring, stimulus control in the form of classical and operant conditioning theory, building the mind for active lifestyle, coping with non-adherence, and involving social support (Grave et al., 2011, p. 6).

Psychologists have studied motivation as the source through which a choice of behavior takes place to achieve one's goals, how long he takes to achieve that goal and with how much intensity (Graham & Weiner, 1996, p. 63). A recent article explored the weight management phenomenon in the light of motivation. A qualitative approach was used for understanding motivation based on self-determination theory (Teixeira et al., 2012, p. 1). Their assessment checked the outcomes along with weight loss studies that entailed motivational interviewing. It was revealed that when the behavioral goals that the individual endorse are set in align with the autonomy, competence and satisfaction of the needs, only then does the behavioral change become sustainable and effective. This also suggested that when individuals observed behavioral outcomes related to their own psyche of 'motivation', and the outcomes were positive, they were more likely to continue their weight loss programs for longer periods. The health professionals are taking benefit from such findings, as obesity patients need continuous support for weight loss after they are given prescriptions and these motivations can be shown in the form of extrinsic rewards with the support of 'self-esteem and weight-contingent improvements'.

It is generally perceived that weight loss cannot be long-term, since many people start it with absolute motivation but feel lazy after six months or so. Although they do see positive results but the motivation wavers after some time. A study was conducted based on the data from National Weight Control Registry members that showed almost 20% of the overweight individuals were successful in reducing their weight (Wing & Phelan, 2005, p. S222). It was also observed that the weight loss was maintained for more than 5 years by eating low calorie foods, exercising regularly, eating breakfast daily, and self-monitoring their weights. The consistent eating patterns on a weekly basis was the most difficult thing as eating in the same routine for at least five years needs motivation and self-regulation. The individuals declared that it became easier for them to maintain weight once they felt accustomed to the routine between 2 to 5 years. The sustained adherence to diet and exercise plans resulted in lowered depression and medical complexities, in those people indicating a long-term successful weight management.

Another interesting study of adherence to weight loss plans in relation to cognition and human psychology…

Sources Used in Documents:


Brande, L. (2015, December 16). About the alcoholics anonymous (AA) 12 step recovery program. Recovery. Retrieved from anonymous-12-step/

Burke, L.E., Wang, J., & Sevick, M.A. (2012). Self-monitoring in weight loss: A systematic review of literature. Journal of American Diet Association, 111(1), 92-102. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008

Gavin, J., Seguin, D., & McBrearty, M. (2006, February 1). The psychology of exercise. Idea Fit. Retrieved from

Graham, S., & Weiner, B. (1996). Theories and principles of motivation. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.). Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 63-84). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.

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