Qualitative research on characteristics, narrative and supporting guidelines for the management of obesity

Effective efforts to reduce obesity strategies require public health policies that address individual and external factors such as social, economic circumstances and physical environment factors. Facts opinion polls suggest that many policy changes to reduce obesity are likely to face resistance from the public.

We organized four focus groups composed of 33 adults living near or in a city in the central region of the United States in July 2008. Participants were assigned to groups according to political ideology that claimed to have. We used a semi-structured discussion guide in order to 1) better understand public perceptions about obesity and 2) evaluate the narrative promise as a strategy to stimulate a fruitful discussion on policy changes related to obesity.

Participants felt that domestic factors are the main cause of obesity. Despite considerable recognition of external causes of obesity, many participants-particularly those of political tendency conservatively were reluctant to seek solutions to the problem through external policies. Throughout the political spectrum, participants responded more favorably to a brief narrative that emphasizes the obstacles to reduce obesity in adults as opposed to a narrative that emphasizes the obstacles to reducing childhood obesity.

This study provides a deeper context for understanding public perceptions about obesity. Some types of narrative seem to have more opportunities to promote support for policies aimed at reducing obesity.