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"I don't eat a hamburger and large chips every day!" A qualitative study of the impact of public health messages about obesity on obese adults

Lewis, Sophie, Thomas, Samantha L., Hyde, Jim, Castle, David, Blood, R. Warwick and Komesaroff, Paul A. 2010, "I don't eat a hamburger and large chips every day!" A qualitative study of the impact of public health messages about obesity on obese adults, BMC public health, vol. 10, no. 309, doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-309.

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Title "I don't eat a hamburger and large chips every day!" A qualitative study of the impact of public health messages about obesity on obese adults
Author(s) Lewis, Sophie
Thomas, Samantha L.ORCID iD for Thomas, Samantha L. orcid.org/0000-0003-1427-7775
Hyde, Jim
Castle, David
Blood, R. Warwick
Komesaroff, Paul A.
Journal name BMC public health
Volume number 10
Issue number 309
Total pages 9
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2010
ISSN 1471-2458
Keyword(s) obesity
public health messages
social stigma
personal risk
Summary Background
We are a society that is fixated on the health consequences of 'being fat'. Public health agencies play an important role in 'alerting' people about the risks that obesity poses both to individuals and to the broader society. Quantitative studies suggest people comprehend the physical health risks involved but underestimate their own risk because they do not recognise that they are obese.

Methods
This qualitative study seeks to expand on existing research by exploring obese individuals' perceptions of public health messages about risk, how they apply these messages to themselves and how their personal and social contexts and experiences may influence these perceptions. The study uses in depth interviews with a community sample of 142 obese individuals. A constant comparative method was employed to analyse the data.

Results
Personal and contextual factors influenced the ways in which individuals interpreted and applied public health messages, including their own health and wellbeing and perceptions of stigma. Individuals felt that messages were overly focused on the physical rather than emotional health consequences of obesity. Many described feeling stigmatised and blamed by the simplicity of messages and the lack of realistic solutions. Participants described the need for messages that convey the risks associated with obesity while minimising possible stigmatisation of obese individuals. This included ensuring that messages recognise the complexity of obesity and focus on encouraging healthy behaviours for individuals of all sizes.

Conclusion
This study is the first step in exploring the ways in which we understand how public health messages about obesity resonate with obese individuals in Australia. However, much more research - both qualitative and quantitative - is needed to enhance understanding of the impact of obesity messages on individuals.
Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-10-309
Field of Research 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, Lewis et al.
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30046427

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
Population Health
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.