THE PROCESS OF DECIDING TO LOSE WEIGHT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF YOUNG WOMEN
Foth, Jacklyn M.
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Obesity is a major problem in the United States. Since 1990, obesity prevalence has doubled in adults, and overweight prevalence has tripled in children and adolescents. The prevalence of both overweight and obesity continues to increase in men, children, and adolescents, and remains at a stable high in women (Ogden et al., 2006). While studies have investigated the experience of being overweight, and the reasons why women choose to lose weight, there is a paucity of studies on the process of decision making in weight loss in women. The purpose of this study therefore, was to explore how young women decide to lose weight. The Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change, by Prochaska and Velicer (1997), was used as the theoretical framework. The Transtheoretical Model describes the process of health behavior change through six stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. A qualitative approach using a naturalistic method of inquiry was used to study the decision-making process. The target population was young women in the Weight Watchers (WW) program in the Midwest. The accessible population was young women in a WW program in Northeast (NE) Wisconsin. A convenience sample comprised of five women from various NE Wisconsin Weight Watchers support groups. Two questionnaires were used for data collection: A demographic questionnaire and an open ended question: Tell me how you decided to lose weight. Data were collected through open-ended interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi's (1978) method. Analysis of data indicated three emergent themes: The Hull, The Sail, and The Anchor. The process of weight loss begins with the recognition of a unique element. A triad of success follows, including overall lifestyle change, prior weight loss, and discovery of personal change. The support mechanisms of family, maintaining both physical and mental health, seeing changing numbers on the scale, and setting specific weight goals to sustain weight loss are required. Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) play a major role in health promotion, and weight loss can often be the first step in reversing negative health consequences. With a better understanding of the decision making process, advanced practice nurses can help guide their patients toward health promoting activities such as weight loss.
Obesity in women