Finding the recipe for nutritious and delicious living : understanding the lived experience of weight loss from morbid obesity in New Zealand women : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Critical Health Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Obesity is classed as a crisis in New Zealand and across the world. Despite obesity
reduction efforts, the obesity rates and failed weight loss attempts continue to be
high. Due to the limited research available on the successful obesity reduction
experience, this research aimed to understand the lived experience of significant
weight loss in New Zealand women from a social constructionist perspective.
Using critical discourse analysis, five participants were interviewed using semistructured
questions. Each participant had lost between 30 and 105 kilograms each
and kept the weight off long term for over one year.
Findings indicate that there are identity changes, social experience changes, and
issues with disclosure of their ex-morbidly obese identity in new social contexts.
Additionally, understanding their ‘why’ was demonstrated to be a significant aspect
to their success at long-term significant weight loss.
This research indicates that the psychological and social aspects of weight loss are
more significant than the biomedical aspect of energy balancing for weight loss.
These results highlight that potentially these psychological and social aspects are not
addressed within mainstream weight management programmes. This research calls
for evaluation of current weight management programmes to ensure comprehensive
and appropriate healthcare is being provided for morbidly obese individuals. This
would assist with reducing obesity rates and enable the term ‘crisis’ to be
disassociated with obesity in New Zealand.