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Health Care Women Int. 2016 Nov;37(11):1221-1238. Epub 2015 Sep 24.

Happily-ever-after: Personal narratives in weight-loss surgery advertising.

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a Institute of Physiotherapy , Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences , Oslo , Norway.
b Institute of Health and Society , University of Oslo , Oslo , Norway.
c Department of English , University of PanAm Texas , Edinburg , Texas , USA.


Advertising for weight loss surgery (WLS) is typically but not exclusively targeted toward women. The surgery is portrayed as the most effective way to free oneself from the stigmas and health risks associated with large bodies. WLS clinics routinely feature success stories by former patients that include before and after pictures and personal narratives. Because these testimonials are cherry-picked by the clinics, naturally they do not represent the full spectrum of postsurgical patient experiences, yet they are likely to influence the decision making of prospective patients. Our findings show that these success stories do not offer adequate information to prospective patients about what to expect after the surgery. In particular, the success stories tend to speak of side-effects as self-inflicted, thus reinforcing the healthist cultural/medical message of individual responsibility that is driving the current WLS epidemic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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