Fitness professionals have long suspected that a client’s attitude and belief system can make or break any serious attempt to lose unwanted pounds. A recent study on overweight adults, published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, gives more weight to the power of positive thinking.

With the goal of determining whether personal beliefs would predict weight change, researchers observed 48 obese men and women on an 8-week, low-calorie diet. Changes in body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure were significantly different among the subjects. “Less weight reduction was associated with poor self-efficacy . . . and the beliefs that obesity has a physical origin . . . and [is] not under behavioral control,” the researchers wrote.

So what does this mean for fitness professionals trying to help overweight or obese clients meet their weight loss goals? The study authors had this suggestion: “These results suggest that the outcome of dietary interventions may be improved when adjusting beliefs, especially self-efficacy. A better outcome could possibly be accomplished if unfavorable beliefs . . . are recognized, discussed, and adjusted to realistic beliefs, preferably before the actual start of a diet intervention.”