I'm searching for solutions: why are obese individuals turning to the Internet for help and support with 'being fat'?

Lewis, Sophie, Thomas, Samantha L., Blood, R. Warwick, Castle, David, Hyde, Jim and Komesaroff, Paul A. 2011, I'm searching for solutions: why are obese individuals turning to the Internet for help and support with 'being fat'?, Health expectations, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 339-350, doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2010.00644.x.

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Title I'm searching for solutions: why are obese individuals turning to the Internet for help and support with 'being fat'?
Author(s) Lewis, Sophie
Thomas, Samantha L.ORCID iD for Thomas, Samantha L. orcid.org/0000-0003-1427-7775
Blood, R. Warwick
Castle, David
Hyde, Jim
Komesaroff, Paul A.
Journal name Health expectations
Volume number 14
Issue number 4
Start page 339
End page 350
Total pages 12
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2011-12
ISSN 1369-7625
Keyword(s) commercial diets
consumer perspectives and experiences
information seeking
qualitative research
weight loss
Summary INTRODUCTION: This study explores what types of information obese individuals search for on the Internet, their motivations for seeking information and how they apply it in their daily lives. METHOD: In-depth telephone interviews with an Australian community sample of 142 individuals with a BMI ≥ 30 were conducted. Theoretical, purposive and strategic samplings were employed. Data were analysed using a constant comparative method. RESULTS: Of the 142 individuals who participated in the study, 111 (78%) searched for information about weight loss or obesity. Of these, about three quarters searched for weight loss solutions. The higher the individual's weight, the more they appeared to search for weight loss solutions. Participants also searched for information about health risks associated with obesity (n = 28), how to prevent poor health outcomes (n = 30) and for peer support forums with other obese individuals (n = 25). Whilst participants visited a range of websites, including government-sponsored sites, community groups and weight loss companies, they overwhelmingly acted upon the advice given on commercial diet websites. However, safe, non-judgemental spaces such as the Fatosphere (online fat acceptance community) provided much needed solidarity and support. CONCLUSIONS: The Internet provides a convenient source of support and information for obese individuals. However, many turn to the same unsuccessful solutions online (e.g. fad dieting) they turn to in the community. Government and community organisations could draw upon some lessons learned in other consumer-driven online spaces (e.g. the Fatosphere) to provide supportive environments for obese individuals that resonate with their health and social experiences, and address their needs.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2010.00644.x
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920401 Behaviour and Health
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, Blackwell Publishing
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30079462

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Health and Social Development
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