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A qualitative investigation of obese women's experiences of effective and ineffective social support for weight management

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Summary

An obese individual's social context influences the extent to which they engage in weight control behaviors. Although the available literature acknowledges the importance of social support for weight management, detailed analyses of obese individuals' experiences of social support for weight loss and/or weight loss maintenance have not been undertaken. Using a qualitative approach, this study presents 22 Australian obese women's perspectives of the availability and effectiveness of social support for weight control. Three superordinate categories, namely, ineffective support, effective support and personal barriers to accessing support, and 12 subcategories were identified. Participants reported minimal access to quality support for weight management, while also suggesting ways in which obese women themselves may hamper significant others' provision of effective support. The results support the investigation of interventions designed to enhance the skills of significant others in assisting obese individuals with weight management.

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