The terms wellness and wellbeing have increasingly been used in many different disciplines including nutrition science and sociology. However, understanding how individuals might perceive these terms in the context of clinical nutrition counselling for weight management has not been explored.
Sixteen of the initial fifty semi-structured interviews of participants selected for a randomised dietary weight loss intervention trial were transcribed verbatim. Critical Discourse Analysis was utilised to determine thematic associations.
Most participants were aware of the terms wellness and wellbeing, associating wellness with being healthy physically and feeling well. Wellbeing was generally considered as being notionally similar to wellness but often incorporated other dimensions including psychological, social and spiritual aspects. Motivation to improve wellbeing was related to a number of key themes including appearance and credibility of source of information and support. However aesthetics where the prospect of looking better was clearly linked with self confidence for many participants was a strong motivating factor. Preliminary results suggest participants have strong links between weight loss, happiness and self confidence. Female participants often perceive wellness from a weight-success view point. However, other psychological and social aspects are recognised by participants as being significant influences on wellness and wellbeing.
The findings suggest current best practice dietary approaches in assisting patients to determine their own goals and strategies for success in weight loss interventions are critical. Further investigation into the social discourses on weight management is warranted to understand the relationship with gender and perceptions of health, wellness and wellbeing.