The problem of context in individual weight management and diet counseling

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalAbstractResearchpeer-review


In this paper we argue that the complexity and contextual nature of managing weight and chronical diseases needs to be addressed in a more systematic and nuanced way than is usually the case in diet counselling. To the extend context is included in diet counselling it is usually reduced to a matter of identifying barriers for individual behaviour change. Contrary to this position, we would like to propose a much more comprehensive understanding of the role of context in issues relating to eating practises. We illustrate this drawing on both a previous research project that focused on how to include logistic, social and discursive dimensions in exploring eating practices in counselling settings, as well as ongoing research into existing counseling practices with obese citizens suffering from chronical diseases in a health promotion center. Using cases we will demonstrate that problems related to individual weight management go far beyond individual motivation and nutritional knowledge. Instead we need to consider the complex structures in which food and eating practices are actually embedded. Furthermore, we argue that although the structural conditions constituting food and eating practises cannot be overcome through individual weight management, exploration of such conditions are pertinent in providing the client with agency through helping them navigate the context of the problem. We also exemplify why a reflexive and critical approach to clients perception of health should be an integrated part of diet counselling, and argue that sensitivity to the complex contextual constitution of weight issues is vital in order to avoid stigmatization and victim blaming.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventGlobal Conference on Obesity Treatment and Weight Management: New Dietary Interventions to stop Obesity: a 21st Century Disease - Hampton Inn Tropicana and Event centre, Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 20 Mar 201722 Mar 2017


ConferenceGlobal Conference on Obesity Treatment and Weight Management
LocationHampton Inn Tropicana and Event centre
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas
Internet address


  • health, nutrition and quality of life
  • dietary counselling

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