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Health (London). 2010 Mar;14(2):115-30. doi: 10.1177/1363459309353292.

Negotiated pleasures in health-seeking lifestyles of participants of a health promoting intervention.

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  • 1National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland.


Using focus group discussion data the present article examines argumentation around pleasure from food and physical activity among participants of a health promoting intervention. The article analyses the conflicts produced by pleasure-seeking and health enhancement, and the pursuits to solve these conflicts. Due to the discrepancy between the pleasure-seeking and health enhancement, pleasure was constructed not simply as a spontaneous experience but often as a planned and disciplined event. In respect of food, it was considered as appropriate to negotiate with different sources of pleasure and discipline one's inclination to simply follow one's taste. However, the tastiness of food was seen to have a value of its own and the need for pleasurable tastes was often experienced as beyond the individual's control. We term food related pleasures 'negotiated pleasures' stressing the diverse strategies used by individuals while negotiating between food related pleasures and their overall health-seeking lifestyle. In respect of physical activity, life resembled more a mosaic where passivity was occasionally interrupted with disciplined physical activity that seldom produced pleasure. The scarcity of pleasures from physical activity as well as from healthy foods is a challenge for health promoters. Instead of building more self-controlling and self-denying individuals, it could be fruitful to focus health promoters' attention to the enhancement of the experiences of pleasure. No matter how self-disciplined individuals are, if the dilemma of pleasure and health is not disentangled, lifestyle change will not last long.

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