Having been at this game for a few years now, we know that Be Strong works, because we see the success every day in all our members.  But something amazing has happened recently – we have had this success confirmed, by academics!

We have a long standing relationship with Liverpool John Moores University, School of Sport and Exercise Science, and since the early part of 2019, student Bethany Ebbrell, has been conducting some research into the effectiveness of Be Strong as a weight loss and lifestyle change program.

The aim of Beth’s project was to ‘assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Be Strong weight loss programme and see how effective it is at improving participants relationships with physical activity and diet’.

The project has now been published and we are excited to share her findings.

Previous research

Previous studies have shown that participants in weight loss programmes are more successful at losing weight, when the programme incorporates reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity. Other studies have shown that motivation and self-confidence also have an impact on success and long term adherence to healthy behaviours, with previous recommendations being that weight loss programmes should also work on increasing motivation and self-confidence to this end.

So Beth’s theory is that if Be Strong can increase motivation and self-confidence, whilst educating members about nutrition and encouraging them to become more physically active, it should be a success!

Beth’s findings

It’s fantastic to read that for the majority of participants in Beth’s study, they have reported that since joining Be Strong their physical activity levels and diet has improved. Physical activity had increased, and an awareness of calorie control was also reported.

With regards to physical and mental health, Be Strong has been found to have a positive impact on both of these for the participants of the study, with many reporting specific improvements such as reductions in medication, improvement in diabetes symptoms and blood pressure.

Specifically the results show that 83% of people improve their activity levels, with 17% staying the same and 0% reducing. With regards to diet, 95% of people report improvements in their diets, and 5% staying the same, with none worsening. Motivation is shown to increase in 88% of people, with 12% staying the same but none worsening.  Self confidence also increases in 89% of participants, with 11% of participants staying the same and none worsening.

Groundbreaking!

Further analysis of the results has shown that if a participant follows the Be Strong programme for 2 years, they have a greater the chance of maintaining their improved lifestyle change and weight loss.  This is unlike other programmes that have been studied in the past (Wing et al 1995) which concluded that not all weight loss interventions resulted in weight loss being maintained. The rationale behind this is that other programmes use diet in isolation, whereas Be Strong is a lifestyle change which incorporates healthier eating and increased physical activity levels into everyday lives. The support and teachings of the Be Strong programme is reported as a major strength by participants to help them achieve their weight loss goals.

Be Strong’s strengths

Beth found that the most commonly reported strength was the sense of community that participants feel, and the support from others within the programme. Other highlights were the weekly discussions and exercise sessions, and the fact that Be Strong is different to anything else out there.

Suggestions for improvement

We are so pleased that Beth’s report didn’t highlight any major areas for improvement.  However there were a couple of suggestions that participants would like to see more classes in different areas, more discussions on diet and meal ideas, and some variation in the exercises.  All of this we can work on!

Conclusions

Beth concludes that Be Strong is successful at improving participants relationship with physical activity and food. Be Strong increases motivation and confidence towards the same, and that this in turn enables participants to adopt healthier behaviours of an improved diet and increased physical activity levels, which are effective for weight loss and then maintaining that weight loss.

Reference: Ebbrell, B. (2019). The effects that the Be Strong weight loss programme has on changing participants’ relationship with physical activity and food. Final year dissertation: Liverpool John Moores University.

Our thoughts…

We are so pleased and humbled to receive this report from LJMU, as it confirms what we knew in our heart of hearts. We would like to thank Beth and the team at LJMU for all their hard work on this project, the report is fantastic and it’s clear that a lot of time has been spent on it.  We would also like to thank all you guys, the participants in the study, who took the time out to answer the questionnaires that informed Beth’s project and final report.

The information we have received in this report, coupled with the data that we hold on actual weight lost by our members, which is now getting on for 750 stones in just under 18 months, shows that we are getting it right.  But this doesn’t mean we will rest on our laurels, for the identified areas of improvement, we will start to work on these to make sure that Be Strong is the best that it can be for all of our members.

What’s next?

The next phase of our work with LJMU will involve a collaboration with Leeds University, where a team of Doctors and PhD students will be looking at the Be Strong programme, to further evaluate it’s effectiveness – and we can’t wait to find out the results!

THE EFFECTS THAT THE BE STRONG WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMME HAS ON CHANGING PARTICIPANTS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND FOOD

By Bethany Ebbrell

Liverpool John Moores University
Download the Report

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