An exploration of discursive framings of body weight

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Waugh, Rachel
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Body weight can be a hot topic not only in today’s society, but also particularly in healthcare related fields of study. This is especially true with movements that call into question, resist, critique, and problematize popular historic science on body weight emerging and gaining popularity among healthcare practitioners, such as Health At Every Size®. Organizations like Obesity Canada have large platforms that include student-led Chapters that are typically affiliated with health professional programs within universities that are also discussing body weight within their contexts. The move to medicalize body weight and redefine obesity as a chronic disease differs greatly when compared to movements like Health At Every Size®, and the work of fat studies scholars and activists. Both can be seen as such differing viewpoints which can create turmoil in this area of research, while it is unclear which method is “right.” This research paper will explore discourse as a method to analyze two paradigms of thought that are contributing to the “turmoil” in weight related research. This paper unfolds in three main sections. First, medicalization will be discussed, and explored in regard to body weight. Second, discourse analysis will be explored as a method. The methods will be detailed in this Part 2 for a discourse analysis that will be conducted in Part 3 of this paper. Third, I will present results of my discourse analysis that was used for text-based qualitative research (in the context of a directed study) on two websites that each represent diverging ideological views of body weight; Obesity Canada and the Association for Size Diversity and Health. In this paper, I aim to provide insights into the competing discourses that exist on body weight in research, healthcare, and society.