Understanding Youths’ Experiences in a Holistic Weight Management Program


  • Natasha A. Spassiani University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Sarah Jeffery-Tosoni York University
  • Jessica Fraser-Thomas York University
  • Jennifer Kuk York University




Given elevated levels of overweight/obesity among today’s youth (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008), and associated negative physical, emotional, and psychological consequences (e.g., Faith, et al., 1997; Must & Anderson, 2003), weight control programs must be critically examined. The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of youths’ experiences in a commercially available weight management program with a holistic approach. Participants included four purposefully sampled male and female youth aged 10-18, engaged in a 16-week program. Participants engaged in a semi-structured interview exploring their experiences within the program. Results indicated youth experienced positive development in the areas of physical, psychological and social skills, and highlighted specific mechanisms by which the program facilitated this development including the holistic approach, parent and peer engagement, and the required work ethic. Youth also reported negative experiences due to lack of autonomy, not reaching weight loss goals, and low enjoyment. Practical implications and future research directions are discussed.






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