A Qualitative Study on Young Men's Experiences of Intentional Weight-Gain



Donnachie C, Sweeting H & Hunt K (2023) A Qualitative Study on Young Men's Experiences of Intentional Weight-Gain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20 (4), Art. No.: 3320.

This qualitative study investigated how young men perceive their body image and experiences of purposively gaining weight, and what these reveal about broader sociocultural meanings around food, consumption and male body image. The participants in this study were a subsample of men participating in the ‘GlasVEGAS’ study which examined the effect of weight-gain and weight loss on metabolism, fitness and disease risk in young adult men. Twenty-three qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen men (mean age 23 years) at GlasVEGAS baseline (n = 10) and weight-gain (6-week) follow-up assessment (n = 13). Data were analysed using the principles of framework analysis. The majority of men viewed the foods provided as part of the GlasVEGAS study as ‘luxury’ items despite their being of low nutritional value. The weight-gain process prompted men to reflect on how cultural norms and social environments may amplify overeating. Several described being surprised at how quickly they assimilated unhealthy eating habits and/or gained weight. Some valued changes in their appearance associated with weight-gain, including appearing larger or having increased muscle size. These factors are vital to consider when developing weight management initiatives targeting young men, including the valorisation of unhealthy foods, wider social influences on diet and male body image ideals.

Health; Toxicology and Mutagenesis; Public Health; Environmental and Occupational Health

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Volume 20, Issue 4

FundersMedical Research Council and Chief Scientist Office
Publication date28/02/2023
Publication date online14/02/2023
Date accepted by journal14/02/2023
PublisherMDPI AG

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Professor Kate Hunt

Professor Kate Hunt

Professor, Institute for Social Marketing