Exploration of Finnish adults’ successful weight management over the life course: a qualitative study

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BackgroundDespite the current obesogenic environment creating challenges weight management, some people succeed in maintaining a normal weight. This study explored lifelong weight management from the life course perspective. We aimed to gain an insight into the issues related to the pathways of individuals of normal weight from childhood to adulthood, and how their experiences and social connections influence their weight management.MethodsWe approached the research topic using qualitative methods. Two age groups (30-45; 55-70years, men and women), forming a total of 39 individuals, participated in theme interviews. Thematic analysis resulted in two main categories, namely (1) adoption of lifestyle and (2) maintenance of lifestyle.ResultsChildhood family played a central role in the formation of lifestyle: food-upbringing created the basis for the interviewees' current diet, and their lives had always been characterized by an active lifestyle. High perceived self-efficacy was vital in weight management. The interviewees were confident about their routines and trusted their abilities to recognize and handle situations that threatened their lifestyles. They possessed skills for adjusting their lifestyle to altered environments, and showed a high level of coping self-efficacy. The interviewees also highlighted the importance of habits for weight management. They had improved their adopted lifestyle through constant learning. New routines had become more internalized through active repetition, finally turning into habitual practices, which simplified weight management.ConclusionsBased on our interviews, we conclude that childhood was important in the development of the health-promoting lifestyle of our interviewees. However, weight management was described as a journey over the life course, and success also encouraged skills of identifying risks and adjusting actions to cope with challenging situations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • Successful weight management
  • Normal weight
  • The life course perspective
  • Qualitative research
  • Self-efficacy
  • Habits

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