Overweight and obesity in young adult women: A matter of health or appearance? The Tromsø study: Fit futures
With the increasing number of overweight and obese people, there is a growing public health concern and focus on body size and lifestyle issues, especially in the media. Young adult women comprise a vulnerable group regarding issues of weight balance and appearance. The aim of the study was to examine the experiences of young women on how this focus influences their attitudes concerning weight changes, appearance, and health. We conducted 12 interviews with young women from two different weight groups about the attention on overweight issues. The results from the in-depth interviews were scrutinized through content analyses. The main findings indicate that young women experience a considerable focus on overweight issues with a trend towards appearance rather than health. Overweight and obesity are sensitive topics, and participants expressed strong views on the cultural definitions of normal body size and appearance. The squeeze between cultural norms and young women’s perceptions of their own body and health was described as a possible negative factor influencing wellbeing as well as motivation for lifestyle changes. A more relaxed focus on overweight issues and especially on appearance is necessary when addressing weight-balance issues and lifestyle changes in young adult women.