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Title: Being connected : an exploration of women's weight loss experience and the implications for health education
Author: Burdett, Teresa Marion
ISNI:       0000 0004 2703 4868
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2010
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The focus of this thesis is the experience of intentional weight loss. There is a growing recognition that the rising levels of obesity are contributing to a global health problem. Although the costs and consequences of obesity for both individuals and societies are many; research in the field of obesity has so far failed to offer successful solutions to these problems. This thesis argues that the reason for this failure is that research has focused primarily on finding the causes of obesity and has ignored to a large extent the experiences of obesity and intentional weight loss. Furthermore, what little qualitative research that has been conducted into obesity and intentional weight loss tends to be short term and fails to follow participants for extended periods of time. In order to address the perceived gaps in knowledge, this thesis adopts a qualitative approach, informed by phenomenology, to explore the experience of intentional weight loss. This thesis intends to explore the following research questions: • What feelings or beliefs motivate individuals to start trying to lose weight and to continue trying to lose weight? • What strategies do individuals employ to try to lose weight and what decisions, feelings or beliefs underpin or influence these strategies? • What factors help or hinder individuals in their attempts to lose weight? Ten overweight or obese women in the South of England were interviewed four times over the period of a year about their experiences of trying to lose weight. Semi structured interviews were used to explore weight loss goals and strategies; feelings and beliefs about losing weight and factors that help and hinder weight loss. The interview transcripts were analysed using Hycner’s (1985) framework and an overarching theme of connectedness was identified linked to four key themes of self sabotage, internal conflict, control and choice. The results reveal wide variations across the ten participants in their motivations for losing weight, many of which are different to the reasons that health educators give for losing weight. The strategies that participants used to lose weight seemed to have less influence on weight loss than participants’ beliefs regarding their chosen strategy and in their own ability. The majority of participants experienced a weight loss relapse. Explanations for these results are sought using two theories of mindfulness and intuitive eating. Implications for weight loss focused health education are considered and recommendations are made both for future health education practice and future research.
Supervisor: Seale, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; LC Special aspects of education ; RA Public aspects of medicine