The nationwide prevalence of obesity calls for more effective strategies for weight loss and maintenance of desired weight. The majority of weight loss programs focus on behavior change (diet and exercise) with some success, although lost weight is often regained. Interventions that boost the long-term effects of weight loss achievements are greatly needed. Marriage provides an ideal context for the lifestyle changes required for effective weight maintenance. Although well-intentioned, spouses may not know how to support their partner's weight loss efforts. Because women are more likely than men to attend to their spouses' health needs and women struggle more than men to maintain a healthy weight, there is a need for a resource to help husbands support their wives in achieving weight management goals. The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a resource to provide husbands with guidelines for supporting their wives' weight loss and weight maintenance goals. The dissertation reviews relevant studies on successful weight loss, weight loss maintenance, social support for weight loss, marriage and health, spouse-involved weight loss interventions, gender and communication, and relevant marriage and family systems literature, as well as popular sources such as self-help books, Internet websites, newspapers, and magazines. The material was evaluated and synthesized to create the resource booklet My Wife Wants to Lose Weight: How Can I Help? The booklet contains information about weight gain, weight loss, and spousal support along with prescribed activities, sample scripts, and assessment tools, forming an easy-to-use guide for husbands that may make the difference in their wives' success in losing and maintaining weight loss. Formal evaluation of the resource booklet is needed, including a study to determine its effectiveness in improving weight loss and long-term maintenance of weight loss for wives whose husbands use the resource.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Weight loss; Spouses

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Ingram, Barbara;