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Appetite. 2010 Oct;55(2):311-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.07.001. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Social class and body management. A qualitative exploration of differences in perceptions and practices related to health and personal body weight.

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Sociology of Food Research Group, Department of Human Nutrition, LIFE Faculty, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


To deepen our understanding of the relationship between social class and obesity, the study compares the ways in which conceptions of health and personal body weight are enmeshed in the everyday lives of people with disparate socio-cultural backgrounds and weight status. We ask how perceptions and enactments of health and personal body weight are related to social structures and practices at work, in spare time, and in family life. Qualitative interviews focusing on life history and current everyday life were conducted with two groups of Danish adults. One group contained highly educated people of normal weight. The other contained people with less education and body weights above the obesity threshold. Recommended healthy lifestyle regimes complied more fully with the established practices and internalized ideas of those in the normal weight highly educated group than they did with the practices and ideas of those in the high-BMI less educated group. Work environments, and also conditions connected with work that were carried over into spare time and family life, further promoted the integration of healthy lifestyles into the everyday practices of the highly educated, normal weight group. In the less educated, high-BMI group this kind of integration occurred less.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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