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J Health Psychol. 2014 May;19(5):664-77. doi: 10.1177/1359105313476977. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Experiences of obesity among Saudi Arabian women contemplating bariatric surgery: an interpretative phenomenological analysis.

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Brunel University, UK.


This study explored experiences of obesity, its perceived causes and motives for surgery, as described by seven Saudi women contemplating bariatric surgery. The women experienced cultural restrictions on their physical and social activities. Obesity embodied these restrictions, attracting stigma and moral failure. Traditional clothing, foods, hospitality norms and limited outdoor female activities were regarded as barriers to weight loss. Bariatric surgery was chosen to protect health and to access normative female roles. Some were encouraged by relatives who had undergone surgery. Opting for surgery reflected both participants' sense of powerlessness to self-manage weight and the social acceptability, within their family context, of this biomedical approach.


appearance; body image; body size; culture; distress; eating behaviour; interpretative phenomenological analysis; norms; obesity; stigma

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