War on Weight: Capturing the Complexities of Weight with Hermeneutics
Purpose: In professional practice, body weight issues are typically considered from an individual-level standpoint. In contrast to this dominant perspective, we highlight that body weight has prominent social, economic, and political influences and connotations. An examination of the social complexity of weight provides opportunity to shift focus from individual to societal and structural influences on perceptions of weight.
Methods: Seven renowned experts in weight-related issues with at least 10-years-experience in various fields from across Europe, Australia, the United States, and Canada participated in interviews about their professional experience with weight. Interviews were analyzed using hermeneutic methods via an iterative interpretive process.
Results: The interviews revealed a battlefield, a war waged on weight. War emerged as an overall metaphor that included aspects of: war on obesity, bodies as battlefields, war camps, war fronts, entrenchment and negotiation and, finally, the phenomenon of “no man’s land.”
Conclusions: In many ways, language itself limits us from capturing the complexities of weight. The war metaphor provides a way of understanding the intensity of the firestorm surrounding the construct of weight. New understandings from what we might refer to as veterans of the war on weight offer hope for transformation, not just win or lose, but a hermeneutic wager of possibility.
Keywords: weight, body image, weight bias, hermeneutics, qualitative research
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