Group format weight loss interventions have benefits over individual format, but privacy concerns may limit their uptake.
In this study, adults with obesity and interest in losing weight were recruited nationally online and randomly assigned to view one of eight videos describing a hypothetical, group behavioral weight loss intervention. Based on three fully crossed factors, the videos varied on privacy features of intervention (present or not); matching participants to group based on weight loss barriers (matched or not); and intervention format (online or in-person). Participants rated their willingness to join, privacy concerns, and perceived effectiveness of these interventions. They further reported preference for individual or group format interventions and reason for preferences.
Description of privacy features, matching of participants, and format did not affect willingness to join, privacy concerns, or perceived effectiveness of the intervention. Privacy concerns were associated with lower willingness to join and lower perceived intervention effectiveness, and greater social anxiety and weight stigma. More participants preferred individual over group format (40.1% vs 33.9%; 26% selected neither) and preference for individual format was associated with greater privacy concerns.
Strategies to address privacy concerns in group-based interventions warrant further attention.