The effectiveness of existing weight management programmes may be improved by understanding overweight and obese people's perceptions of the reasons for successful and unsuccessful weight management. Many qualitative studies have investigated overweight and obese adults' experiences with weight management. This paper presents findings of a meta-ethnography that synthesized 17 qualitative studies of overweight and obese adults' weight management experiences, principally in the context of behavioural weight management programmes. Twelve themes were derived describing factors that overweight and obese people identify as relevant to weight management: health concerns, expectations towards weight management, attributions for weight gain, psychological barriers, psychological facilitators, self-perception and body image, stigmatization, socio-cultural factors, environmental barriers, environmental facilitators, experiences with weight management programmes and positive outcomes of programme participation. Interventions that address all of the modifiable factors identified in this review are likely to appear credible to participants and will engage with the intra- and extra-individual factors that they perceive as affecting their weight management efforts.