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An Exploration of the Psychosocial Aspects of Weight Among College Students in the College Environment Open Access

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The purpose of the study was to explore the psychosocial aspects of weight and the daily-lived experiences of college students within the college environment. Two research questions guided this qualitative research: a) How, and in what ways, does perception of weight influence identity development among college students before and during college; and b) In what ways are weight perceptions integrated into college students' descriptions of their daily life experiences within the informal and formal learning environments in college? A sub-question explored: In what ways do students prescribe meaning to weight? A purposeful sample of 19 college students was recruited for participation from two large universities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. This study used an exploratory approach using naturalistic inquiry by collecting data through interviews with currently enrolled college students, within the environment of the college. The data was analyzed using a grounded theory approach through a series of coding processes and thematic analysis identifying themes describing weight awareness in varying states, or phases: weight concerns and conflicts, weight commitment, and weight acceptance. The study followed a modified grounded theory approach, which allowed for the development of an emerging grounded theory: A Model of Weight Awarness among College Students. The significance of the study is to provide a foundation for future theoretical research in understanding weight awareness, and how weight is experienced, as a part of psychosocial development among college students in the college environment. The proposed emerging theoretical model may be helpful in promoting the college as a weight-safe environment, reducing stigmatization and discrimination of weight, allowing students of all weights and sizes to participate fully in college. The model may also be helpful in developing appropriate strategies for students to resolve conflicts with weight concerns.

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