A qualitative study of men’s perceptions and attitudes towards weight management and weight management services
AbstractThis study investigated men’s perceptions and attitudes to weight management and weight management services. A qualitative study design used one-to-one interviews to gain insight into the thoughts and feelings of the participants involved. A semi-structured topic guide was prepared to help guide the encounter. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. Framework analysis was used to make sense of themes that emerged. An article was circulated on the intranet at a single local government workplace in Chester in the north west of England inviting men to take part in the study. Eleven white British men aged between 27 and 59 years of age were recruited. The study found that weight management was viewed as important for health but the pursuit of a healthy body mass index was not a consideration for the majority of the men who set their own paramaters for a healthy weight. Appearance and image were important motivators but the men noted that there did not seem to be pressure to conform to a particular ideal. Being able to take part in sports or activity to maintain fitness were very important to the participants and this became a problem when injuries were sustained, especially recurring ones. Changing priorities along the lifecourse presented individuals with different challenges for managing their weight. An interesting concept raised was that maintaining one’s health through a diet and exercise regime was seen as ‘work’. The men viewed weight management as a personal responsibility and would not attend the health service for support unless it was associated with other symptoms. They viewed traditional weight management practices such as calorie counting and weighing oneself in public as being aimed at women and preferred to put the emphasis on physical activity rather than diet when managing their weight. Flexible and expert services were a key theme with the men seeking a personalised service that went beyond the general healthy eating and exercise messages in order to make it worth their while to attend. This study illustrates that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not be sufficient if services are to attract and engage men in health behaviour change. Implications for practice are that weight management services should be accessible without the need for a health referral and offer a range of services to allow men to find the best fit for their lifestyle. They should make the most of current technology using the internet, mobile phone apps and other forms of communication. Services should be marketed creatively to remove the stigma from attending weight management services which are seen to be for women only. Whilst developing services for men practitioners should consider the differences in men and women’s attitudes to food and activity and tailor services accordingly. For example, focusing on body composition and fat loss rather than weight alone and consider using incentives in some settings. Three main areas for further research were identified. These were exploring further men’s views on appearance and body image because this was a strong motivator for weight management; the implications of long term injuries caused by exercising on men’s ability to manage their weight along the life course and the concept of health as work.
CitationThorp, P. (2011). A qualitative study of men’s perceptions and attitudes towards weight management and weight management services. (Master’s thesis)
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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