Obesity has recently become a worldwide epidemic, with 75% of American adults overweight and 33% classified as obese (World Health Organization, 2005). The rise in obesity has brought a similarly marked focus on weight loss. While weight loss is often achievable, prior medical research has shown maintaining weight loss to be the largest hurdle, with roughly 95% of individuals regaining back the weight loss within a 5 year period (Berry & Canetti, 2009). Despite this, relatively little research has been conducted investigating the psychological and relational characteristics of individuals that successfully maintain major weight loss, and the impact drastic weight loss has on relationships, family systems and romantic relationships. Consequently, systems therapists wishing to support an individual and their families throughout the weight loss process are left without empirical or theoretical guidance. The purpose of this study was to contribute to the development of a theory of drastic weight loss maintenance that explains identity and relationships changes that unfold before, during and after weight loss within successful weight loss maintainers. Unstructured, open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted with five former contestants of NBC's television program The Biggest Loser. Overall, weight loss experiences fell into two broad categories of personal narrative/identity and systemic/relationship themes. Narrative therapy's concept of personal narratives was used to classify narrative/identity themes as the dominant themes and beliefs within a personal narrative. Systemic/relationship themes included themes in intergenerational backgrounds, family systems and relationships. Themes amongst those participants who were successful at weight maintenance were also compared to participants who were struggling to maintain their weight loss results. A sequential model outlining how narrative/identity themes and systemic/relationship themes combine in order to create successful long-term weight maintenance after drastic weight loss is proposed. Clinical and research implications for couple, family and individual psychotherapy are also discussed.
|Advisor:||Davis, Sean D.|
|Commitee:||Brown, Stephen W., Glebova, Tatiana N.|
|School:||Alliant International University|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Health sciences, Counseling Psychology, Individual & family studies|
|Keywords:||Couples counseling, Family counseling, Family systems, Narrative therapy, Obesity, Weight loss|
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