Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Previous literature has indicated that weight loss maintenance represents a major challenge in the management of obesity (Brownell, 1995; Stunkard, 1985). The vast majority of individuals who diet lose and regain weight many times, a pattern often referred to as weight cycling.

The present study was a prospective attempt to understand weight maintenance and fluctuation in a general/normal sample of individuals (n = 315) and in a select group of weight loss maintainers (n = 19). Participants were assessed twice, six months apart, and weight change over this period was correlated with several predictors assessed at Time 1. These predictors included weight-related demographics, laboratory stress-induced eating, dieting behaviors, depression, and general life stress. This study also examined factors associated with stress-induced eating in the laboratory and the relationship between depression and weight fluctuation.

Results from this study suggest that dietary factors and stress-induced eating are associated with weight fluctuations in men and women. Findings from this study also suggest that proximity to ideal weight and social support for weight loss are related to continued weight loss among weight loss maintainers. In addition, these results indicate that increases in depression are associated with weight gain among weight cyclers but not among those without a weight cycling history. This finding occurred in both the general sample of participants as well as among the weight loss maintainers in this study.