The lived experience of intentional weight loss whilst living in a society with cultural expectations of thinness

Authors: Burdett, T.

Conference: 34th International Human Science Research Conference

Dates: 11-15 August 2015


My presentation discusses a qualitative study with a phenomenological approach. Ten women in the south of England took part in four in depth interviews over a period of one year. During the year their experience of trying to lose weight was explored whilst considering their own beliefs, motivators and strategies for weight loss.

This in depth study into how the women viewed their weight loss experience was vital as much research is focused on the causes and statistics of obesity but only in a limited way on how trying to lose weight impacts on the individuals life and also how the lessons learned can be utilised to help individuals in their weight loss goal.

Results/lessons learned Trying to lose weight was viewed by all the participants as the only alternative, they had to lose weight they believed for a variety of reasons including health fears, society's expectations of them, stigma at being their present size, self image and wanting to be fitter.

However, regardless of whether weight was lost or how much weight was lost, all individuals viewed their weight loss experience as unpleasant.

As the weight loss experience is viewed negatively by each participant regardless of their outcome, practitioners involved should in their approach acknowledge they value the individual and offer, realistic, focused and best evidencce approaches to assist individuals to lose weight.

Such actions it has to be acknowledged takes place in a society where size is bound inextricably bound in our culture and even morality. Weight loss can be a distressing expereince for individuals and it behoves us as humans to show compassion and support to these individuals.

The significance of this study is in show how individuals in today's society feel driven to lsoe weight and how negatively they view their whole wieght loss expereince often regardless of result.

Consequently support to individuals who wish to lose weight in the present cultural arena needs to be individually tailored, focused, effective and practical and utilise the best evidence and most up to date research available.

Source: Manual

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