Perception of being Overweight in Iranian Women: A Qualitative Study

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences

3 Nursing Department, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Overweight is a major public health concern that results in a decreased quality of life. While most of the studies conducted on weight loss strategies have concentrated on issues related to why people gain weight, still little is known about the meaning and the perception of overweight. This study aimed to clarify the perception and experience of women with overweight.
Methods: This qualitative content analysis study was carried out in 2017-2018 in Tehran, Iran. A total of 18 women with overweight and obesity were purposefully chosen. To collect the data, unstructured and semi-structured interviews were conducted. An inductive content analysis approach was used for the data analysis.
Results: The data analysis led to the formation of three categories: obesity concerns, undesirable self-image perception, and psychological pressure and also seven subcategories: inactivity, disorders caused by overweight, body image dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, social stigma, being socially rejected and stressfulness, and sadness. The results showed that overweight and obesity are perceived as a negative experience.
Conclusion: As the present study showed, Iranian women have unpleasant and upsetting experiences of their overweight. The findings reveal the needs to develop strategies for helping women with the problem of overweight to have a better feeling of themselves and society.