Blame, Shame, and Lack of Support: A Multilevel Study on Obesity Management

Qual Health Res. 2014 Jun;24(6):790-800. doi: 10.1177/1049732314529667. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


In this research, we examined the experiences of individuals living with obesity, the perceptions of health care providers, and the role of social, institutional, and political structures in the management of obesity. We used feminist poststructuralism as the guiding methodology because it questions everyday practices that many of us take for granted. We identified three key themes across the three participant groups: blame as a devastating relation of power, tensions in obesity management and prevention, and the prevailing medical management discourse. Our findings add to a growing body of literature that challenges a number of widely held assumptions about obesity within a health care system that is currently unsupportive of individuals living with obesity. Our identification of these three themes is an important finding in obesity management given the diversity of perspectives across the three groups and the tensions arising among them.

Keywords: discourse analysis; health care; health care professionals; health care, users’ experiences; health policy / policy analysis; lived experience; obesity / overweight; stigma.