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A “messy ball of wool”: a qualitative study of the dimensions of the lived experience of obesity

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Ogden, K ORCID: 0000-0003-1811-8667, Barr, J ORCID: 0000-0002-9319-753X, Rossetto, G and Mercer, J 2020 , 'A “messy ball of wool”: a qualitative study of the dimensions of the lived experience of obesity' , BMC Psychology, vol. 8 , pp. 1-14 , doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-00416-2.

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Abstract

Background: Obesity is a multi-dimensional condition with causal factors beyond the physiological into thebehavioural, dietetic and psychological. Understanding the lived experience of those who are overweight andobese and self-perceived barriers to access and engagement in intervention are imperative to formulating asystemic response to the complex problem of obesity. This study aims to identify the social, psychological andsystemic factors impeding engagement with weight-loss behaviour and interventions, and to formulate aframework for responding to these.Methods: We conducted an exploratory qualitative study using focus groups and interviews with people who havelived experienced of being overweight or obese. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic approach.Following the thematic analysis, further interpretation of the data was achieved by applying the epistemologicalfoundations of the Lifeworld Led Care paradigm, recognising its philosophy of the person and of care based on theindividual’s experiences. Eight men and 17 women participated.Results: Three overarching themes were identified: Complexity and Battle, Impediments, and Positive Reorientation. The subthemes of these were found to represent the dimensions of the Lifeworld: Identify, Intersubjectivity, Mood and Embodiment.Further interpretation of the themed data identified six polarised dichotomies representing the opposing liveddimensions of the obesity experience: Failure Double-Bind; Think-Feel Conflict; Negative-Positive Orientation;Impeding-Facilitating Health Professional; Knowledge as Deficit-Insight; and Internal-External Orientation.Conclusion: Obesity manifests as constraints and challenges across six polarised dichotomies, active in the livedexperience of obesity. This study provides a unique way of conceptualising and understanding the complex andinteracting meanings of the lived experience of obesity through the construction of polarised dichotomies. Thepolarities signify the oscillating experiences that people with obesity encounter, which may be either helpful ordestructive in both their lifeworld experience and their capacity to address obesity towards improved social,psychological and physical outcomes. Understanding the dichotomies allows a reconceptualisation of obesity froma quantification of the individual to a more respectful, humane, compassionate and utilitarian conceptualisation ofthe experiencing person and the phenomenon itself. Further, these lived polarised dichotomies of obesity presentthe opportunity for health professionals to reconceptualise obesity in care and interventions.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Ogden, K and Barr, J and Rossetto, G and Mercer, J
Keywords: embodiment/bodily experiences, health care, lifeworld led care, lived experience, obesity, psychology
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Psychology
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
ISSN: 2050-7283
DOI / ID Number: 10.1186/s40359-020-00416-2
Copyright Information:

© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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