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Title: Exploring media representations of overweight & obese women’s dietary and exercise behaviours in the biggest loser: a self-determination theory approach
Authors: Tennant, Melissa
Keywords: self-determination theory;weight loss practices;weight loss strategies;reality television;overweight women
Issue Date: 22-Oct-2014
Publisher: Laurentian University of Sudbury
Abstract: Objective: The purpose of this study was to use self-determination theory (SDT) to gain a better understanding regarding how weight loss practices (i.e., dietary and exercise behaviours) and weight loss strategies for overweight and obese women were portrayed within the reality television show The Biggest Loser (Season 13). The psychological, behavioural and health promotion implications were of interest. Design and Method: An ethnographic content analysis (see Altheide, 1996) of media representations of all 18 episodes within season 13 of The Biggest Loser were undertaken with a specific focus on five female contestants. Results: Analysis revealed that weight loss was portrayed under an over-arching theme: reaching weight loss goals equals success/not reaching weight loss goals equals failure. Multiple meanings of weight loss and implications emerged depending on four distinct sub themes: a) fat women’s lack of self-control; b) weight loss strategies associated with disordered exercise practices; c) weight loss promoted as a privilege; and d) weight loss as a new and improved self. These themes had motivational implications when interpreted within the context of SDT. Conclusion: This study extends the understanding of the ways in which certain forms of media (i.e., reality television) construct and reinforce particular cultural, social and behavioural norms concerning the promotion of weight loss practices in overweight women. This study also extends previous exercise psychology literature seeking to conceptualize and study the promotion and selfregulation of exercise and weight loss practices from a SDT perspective within a cultural context (i.e., the media).
Appears in Collections:Interdisciplinary Health / Santé interdisciplinaire - Master's Theses
Master's Theses

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