A thematic analysis of causes attributed to weight gain: a female slimmer’s perspective


S. Sawkill, Department of Psychology, Coventry University, 16, Foundry Hill, Hayle, Cornwall, TR27 4HW, UK.
Tel.: +44 07941680157
E-mail: sally@ydesign.co.uk


How to cite this article
Sawkill S., Sparkes E. & Brown K. (2012) A thematic analysis of causes attributed to weight gain: a female slimmer’s perspective. J Hum Nutr Diet. 26, 78–84


Background:  Obesity prevalence has shown a marked increase in recent years. Strategies designed to manage the trend are not always effective in the long term. This qualitative study investigated perceived causes of weight gain in a group of female slimmer’s. Understanding beliefs about the causes of a problem can help explain behaviour and find solutions. It is therefore justified and timely to explore beliefs about causes of weight gain.

Methods:  A group of 11 (adult) slimmer’s were interviewed using a semi-structured approach, and the data obtained were analysed thematically.

Results:  Four main themes were identified; importance of habits, influence of learning early models about the world through food, eating beyond feeling full and use of food as therapy.

Conclusions:  Behavioural causes were given to explain weight gain, perceived to be mediated by modern lifestyles or changes in circumstances. In addition, beliefs about food and its function related to personal history or childhood experience, which subsequently were used negatively in adulthood. The potential contributions of these findings for practice are explored.