Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Weight loss-Psychological aspects, Body image-Psychological aspects, Weight loss, Mixed methods


This mixed-methods exploratory study was undertaken to better understand both the positive and negative ways in which significant weight loss is experienced by people who have intentionally undertaken the process of weight loss. Ninety-two people completed an online survey which contained both quantitative and qualitative items. Four in-depth phone interviews were conducted with respondents who completed the online survey and contacted the researcher to offer further commentary. Survey respondents noted the amount of weight they had lost, the methods used and their reasons for deciding to lose weight. Other quantitative questions asked respondents to identify how dissatisfied with their bodies they were before they began, whether they had imagined a certain body for themselves and whether their hopes and expectations were realized post-weight loss. Respondents were asked to specify the most positive or negative effects of their weight loss. They were also asked to identify any ways in which they felt that their personal images of themselves had not caught up to their new body sizes. Findings of the study showed that the experience of significant weight loss is indeed a complex and incompletely understood phenomenon. Vivid and evocative qualitative responses reinforce the well-known positive aspects of weight loss such as increased confidence, improved health, and becoming able to fit into smaller-sized clothing, but also shed light on the lesser-known negative aspects -- such as now having excessive amounts of loose skin, experiencing increased sexual attention, and constantly being preoccupied with regaining weight.




iv, 68 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (page 53)

Limited Access until August 2019