244058 "But it's hard on the heart": Lay models of the relationship between size and health

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:30 PM

Virginia Dicken, MPH, CHES , Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL
This presentation will review the results of a study designed to examine lay beliefs about the relationship between weight and health and the implications of such lay beliefs for using a "Health at Every Size" approach. Twenty women classified as obese were interviewed regarding their understanding of the relationship between body size and health and their beliefs about the identity, causes, timeline, consequences, and controllability of obesity. Qualitative analysis addressed four questions: Do women of size conceptualize obesity as an illness? What characteristics of obesity are salient to women of size? From where do women of size report getting their information about obesity? and Are there differences in the conceptualizations of obesity between those who do and those who do not seek to lose weight? Results indicated that most participants viewed obesity as a long-term condition (though not always a “disease”) caused by poor nutrition and lack of physical activity and controlled/cured through improved eating habits. Heart and musculoskeletal problems were cited as potential consequences of obesity, but social stigma was the most frequently mentioned outcome. Several participants commented on the vast amounts of often contradictory information available regarding weight management. Preferred terminology and beliefs about responsibility varied widely among participants, as did their attitudes toward “common sense” ideas about body size and the notion that one could pursue health at any size. Practitioners must understand and take into account lay model diversity when conducting work related to weight and health.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify five components of obesity lay models. 2. Assess the potential impact of lay models for Health at Every Size practice.

Keywords: Weight Management, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a certified health education specialist (CHES) with a masters degree in health education, and the research I am presenting is an original investigation conducted in the course of my studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.