Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Applying Grounded Theory to Weight Management among Women: Making a Commitment to Healthy Eating

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Applying Grounded Theory to Weight Management among Women: Making a Commitment to Healthy Eating

Article excerpt

Research suggests that a modest amount of weight loss can provide health benefits and reduce risk factors; unfortunately, many dietary and behavioral treatments have failed to demonstrate long-term weight maintenance (Ogden, Yanovski, Carroll, & Flegal, 2007). Many women are unable to maintain their body weight loss through continued healthy lifestyle behaviors following a weight management program. As evidenced in the literature, establishing and maintaining healthy eating behaviors is a difficult process (Wing, Tate, Gorin, Raynor, & Fava, 2006). Discovering ways to successfully maintain long-term weight loss relies heavily on making continued conscious efforts to choose healthy foods and engage in behaviors adopted during a weight management program (e.g., planning meals, eating when hungry).

Weight maintenance is influenced by a number of factors (e.g., biological, behavioral, environmental) that contribute to an energy balance between consumption and expenditure (Stein & Colditz, 2004). Understanding how individuals conceptualize and define healthy eating as well as how they apply multiple eating strategies that prompt healthy eating behaviors needs to be explored (Falk, Sobal, Bisogni, Connors, & Devine, 2001). Many individuals, especially women, succumb to fad diets, poor nutrition choices, and foster negative relationships with food. An international study of food choice behaviors found that women have a greater likelihood of dieting and greater belief in the importance of healthy diets compared to men (Wardle et al., 2004). A recent United States (US) survey also found that the use of dietary supplements for weight loss was more common among women compared with men and more common among African Americans than Caucasians (Pillitteri et al., 2008).

Little is known about the process of how women continue to make healthy food choices after completing a weight management program. Many intervention studies focus on the process of losing weight during a program and fail to follow participants post-intervention. An exception is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) developed by Rena Wing and James Hill in 1994, which is the largest prospective study of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.

Unfortunately, studies that explore the underlying causes of overweight, obesity, and poor eating behaviors among women remain scarce with limited knowledge of unique sociocultural perceptions of various racial groups that may mitigate prevention and treatment (i.e., many African American women report the perception of larger ideal body sizes as acceptable; Roberts, Cash, Feingold, & Johnson, 2006). There appears to be a sociocultural connection between women and food with women feeling responsible for food consumption and preparation involving themselves and their families (Budd, 2007). In addition, few long term weight management studies have examined the influence of social support from family, friends, and other role models (Barnes et al., 2007).

Research studies that focus on how women continue to manage their weight by maintaining healthy eating behaviors after a weight loss program are lacking. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to explore the process of how African American and Caucasian women aged 30 and older maintained healthy eating behaviors one year or longer after participating in the EatRight Weight Management Program. EatRight is a university-based weight management program that emphasizes eating more lower-energy dense foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy) and fewer higher-energy dense foods; it is a lifestyle-oriented weight control program designed to beat the odds of the weight-loss battle by helping participants develop new eating habits.

This study was exploratory in nature and explains how facilitating and complicating concepts influence and contribute to maintaining healthy eating behaviors after a weight management program. …

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