Behavioral Science Research in Diabetes

Lifestyle changes related to obesity, eating behavior, and physical activity

  1. Rena R. Wing, PHD,
  2. Michael G. Goldstein, MD,
  3. Kelly J. Acton, MD, MPH, FACP,
  4. Leann L. Birch, PHD,
  5. John M. Jakicic, PHD,
  6. James F. Sallis, Jr., PHD,
  7. Delia Smith-West, PHD,
  8. Robert W. Jeffery, PHD and
  9. Richard S. Surwit, PHD
  1. From Miriam Hospital (R.R.W., J.M.J.), Brown University, and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (R.R.W.), Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island; the Pharmaceuticals Division (M.G.G.), Bayer Corporation, West Haven, Connecticut; the Indian Health Service Diabetes Program (K.J.A.), Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Department of Human Development and Family (L.L.B.), Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania; the Department of Psychology (J.F.S.), San Diego State University, San Diego, California; the Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine (D.S.-W.), University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama; the Division of Epidemiology (R.W.J.), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (R.S.S.), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Rena R. Wing, PhD, Director, Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Brown University/Miriam Hospital, 164 Summit Ave., Providence, RI 02906. E-mail: rwing{at} .


Lifestyle factors related to obesity, eating behavior, and physical activity play a major role in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. In recent years, there has been progress in the development of behavioral strategies to modify these lifestyle behaviors. Further research, however, is clearly needed, because the rates of obesity in our country are escalating, and changing behavior for the long term has proven to be very difficult. This review article, which grew out of a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases conference on behavioral science research in diabetes, identifies four key topics related to obesity and physical activity that should be given high priority in future research efforts: 1) environmental factors related to obesity, eating, and physical activity; 2) adoption and maintenance of healthful eating, physical activity, and weight; 3) etiology of eating and physical activity; and 4) multiple behavior changes. This review article discusses the significance of each of these four topics, briefly reviews prior research in each area, identifies barriers to progress, and makes specific research recommendations.


  • Abbreviations: CHD, coronary heart disease; NIDDK, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    • Accepted May 24, 2000.
    • Received March 7, 2000.
| Table of Contents