Monitoring the normal body: ideals and practices among normal-weight and moderately overweight people

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Introduction: An extensive body of literature is concerned with obese people, risk, and weight management. However, little is known about weight management among people not belonging to the extreme BMI categories. Management of weight among normal-weight and moderately overweight individuals provides us with knowledge about how to prevent future overweight or obesity. This paper investigates body size ideals and monitoring practices among normal-weight and moderately overweight people. Methods: The study is based on in-depth interviews combined with observations. 24 participants were recruited by strategic sampling based on self-reported BMI 18.5-29.9 kg/m2 and socio-demographic factors. Inductive analysis was conducted. Results: Normal-weight and moderately overweight people have clear ideals for their body size. Despite being normal weight or close to this, they construct a variety of practices for monitoring their bodies based on different kinds of calculations of weight and body size, observations of body shape, and measurements of bodily firmness. Biometric measurements are familiar to them as are health authorities' recommendations. Despite not belonging to an extreme BMI category, they translate such measurements and recommendations in meaningful ways to fit their everyday life. Conclusions: Normal-weight and moderately overweight people are concerned with their body size and continuously monitor it. Future health promotion work should consider the kind of practices already established in daily life when recommending ways of conducting body management.
Translated title of the contributionOvervågning af den normale krop: idealer og praksis blandt normal- og moderat overvægtige personer
Original languageEnglish
JournalObesity Facts
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)329-341
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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