Prospective Relations between Social Comparison Orientation and Weight Loss Outcomes

Danielle Arigo, Meghan L. Butryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Maintenance of weight loss after behavioral intervention tends to be poor, and there is need for an improved understanding of factors that are associated with successful maintenance. Social comparison is known to be a powerful influence on treatment outcomes for group-based behavioral weight loss programs, but little is known about the role of individual differences in social comparison orientation (i.e., tendency to value comparison information) in this context. The goal of this study was to examine prospective relations between social comparison orientation and long-term weight loss outcomes (percent weight loss and aerobic-intensity physical activity) among participants in behavioral weight loss treatment. Participants (n = 161, MAge = 54, MBMI = 34.4 kg/m2) completed a measure of social comparison orientation at pre-treatment baseline. Height and weight were measured in the research center and aerobic-intensity physical activity was assessed via accelerometer at baseline, mid- and end-of-treatment, and at 6 and 12 months post-treatment (representing maintenance). Multilevel models tested prospective relations between comparison orientation and treatment outcomes over time, with emphasis on differences during the post-treatment maintenance phase. Stronger (vs. weaker) general comparison orientation was associated with better maintenance of aerobic-intensity physical activity. However, stronger (vs. weaker) orientation toward comparisons with better-off others (i.e., upward comparison) was associated with less weight loss success during and after treatment. Social comparison orientation thus shows meaningful relations with long-term maintenance of key outcomes in group-based behavioral weight loss treatment, and warrants further investigation in this context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-254
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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