Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Exercise and Health Science

First Advisor

Julie A. Wright

Second Advisor

Jessica A. Whiteley

Third Advisor

Ling Shi


While many weight loss interventions have resulted in significant weight loss, maintaining that weight loss long-term continues to be challenging for most, with long-term weight loss maintenance (LTWLM) rates as low as 20% among participants of clinical weight loss studies. Those who struggle with LTWLM exhibit many shared characteristics, including lower mental health composite scores; high levels of perceived stress; and lower rates of adherence to WLM behaviors. One explanation for this might be that emotion regulation (ER) skills are stronger among those who are successful at LTWLM, and therefore more successful at self-regulating for the goal of LTWLM.

The purpose of this study is to determine whether emotion regulation moderates the relationships between LTWLM/adherence to WLM behaviors and a) depression and b) perceived stress; hypothesizing that there is an inverse relationship between a) depression and b) stress with LTWLM—with difficulties in ER moderating these relationships. We hypothesized that this moderation may lead to weight regain by impacting adherence to WLM behaviors, with increased levels of depression/stress associated with decreased rates of adherence to WLM behaviors—with difficulties in ER moderating these relationships. Cross-sectional data were collected via an on-line self-report survey from participants who have lost at least 20 pounds (lbs.) of their highest adult lifetime body weight, measuring: a) amount of greatest weight loss; b) amount of weight loss maintained; c) length of time loss has been maintained/regained; d) degree of adherence to WLM behaviors; e) levels of depression; f) levels of perceived stress; and g) ER skill. Findings from 142 participants (mean age 36; 72% F/28% M; 81% white) confirm that there is a negative association between increased levels of depression (p=0.018) and/or stress (p=0.046) and LTWLM, however emotion regulation was not found to moderate either of these relationships (p=0.339 and p=0.941, respectively). No significant association between depression and/or stress and adherence to WLM behaviors (p= 0.680 and 0.483, respectively), nor ER’s moderating effect on these relationships (p=0.713 and 0.527, respectively) were found.