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‘Just because I’m old it doesn’t mean I have to be fat’: a qualitative study exploring older adults’ views and experiences of weight management
  1. Sarah E Jackson1,
  2. Linn Holter1,
  3. Rebecca J Beeken1,2
  1. 1 Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah E Jackson; s.e.jackson{at}


Objectives The aim of this study was to explore older adults’ beliefs about the appropriateness of weight management, and how their experiences and expectations of weight management have changed as they have got older.

Design Qualitative semistructured interview study.

Setting UK.

Participants Older adults (≥65 years) in the UK who had recent (<5 years) experience of trying to manage their weight (n=15; 12 women; 73% white British).

Results Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Emergent themes highlighted that weight remained a concern for many older adults, although having a high body weight was seen to be more acceptable at older than younger ages. Excess weight was reported to have negative consequences for health and well-being which participants felt could be alleviated by losing weight. Participants were motivated to lose weight for appearance and health reasons, but mentioned finding it harder to lose weight as they had got older and generally felt they had received limited guidance on weight management from health professionals.

Conclusions The views of our participants highlight the need for further research into safe and effective methods of weight loss for older people and indicate that advice and support from health professionals would be welcomed.

  • geriatric medicine
  • primary care
  • preventive medicine
  • public health
  • qualitative research

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Twitter @DrSarahEJackson

  • Contributors SEJ and RJB were responsible for the study concept and design. LH acquired the data. SEJ, LH and RJB analysed and interpreted the data. SEJ drafted the manuscript, and all authors revised it for important intellectual content. All the authors had final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding This work was supported by a research grant from the Cancer Research UK (ref no. C1418/A14133). RJB is supported by Yorkshire Cancer Research University Academic Fellowship Funding.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the University College London Research Ethics Committee, reference 5234/001.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Anonymised interview transcripts can be obtained by the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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