Coping with weight-related discrepancy and potential impacts on future self-regulation of weight loss behavior : development of the WEIGHT-COPE
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The purpose of this dissertation was to develop a reliable and valid measure to assess coping responses to weight-related discrepancy in women. The decision to create such a measure stemmed from the difficulties individuals have with initiation and consistent regulation of weight-related behavior. When salient, perceived discrepancies with one’s weight or body can be emotionally laden, producing negative affective responses and discontent, labeled here as dissatisfaction. The individual must then find ways to cope. However, not all coping responses are equal, and are theorized to have varied impacts on future regulation of weight loss efforts. The present research addressed these issues by developing a theoretically-based measure, labeled the WEIGHT-COPE. The WEIGHT-COPE originally sought to capture healthy and unhealthy problem-focused coping efforts to lose weight, as well as approach and avoidance coping efforts theorized as more distal influences on problem-focused efforts. The WEIGHT-COPE and other relevant measures were completed by 470 females ages 18-35 years. Results of an exploratory factor analysis revealed a 38-item measure consisting of eight coping factors: Exercise/Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, Cutting Calories/Appetite Suppression, Supplement Use, Monitor/Planning, Disengage/Denial, Camouflage, and Acceptance/Positive Reframing. All factors were internally consistent ( = 0.71 to 0.89), and converged with other pertinent measures of weight satisfaction, weight controllability/changeability, social physique anxiety, self-esteem, weight loss efficacy, physical activity level, dietary intake and objectified body consciousness. To test theoretical implications on future self-regulation of weight loss behavior, a structural regression model was run utilizing the WEIGHT-COPE factors. The factors were associated in a theoretically-driven pattern, illustrating that coping responses to weight-related discrepancy have varied impact on weight loss behavior choice. Thus, the present findings provide preliminary support for the WEIGHT-COPE and suggest that individuals cope with weight-related discrepancy in different ways, which may then have various impacts future self-regulation of weight loss behavior.