9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Embodiment, Emotions and Health I Building I, 1E2

Social inequality in obesity: An exploration of practices related to health and personal bodyweight in contrasting everyday lives

To deepen the understanding of the impact of social inequality on obesity, the reported study compared the ways in which understandings of health and personal body weight are enmeshed in the everyday lives of people with different social background. Drawing on practice theory, the study asks how perceptions and enactments of health and personal body weight are related to social structures and practices in work, spare time and family life. Qualitative interviews focusing on life history and current everyday life were conducted with two groups of individuals. One group contained highly educated individuals of normal weight. The other contained individuals with less education and body weights above the obesity threshold. Recommended healthy body protocols complied more readily with established practices and internalized ideas of those in the highly educated group than they did with practices of those in the less educated group. Work environments and conditions connected with work carried over into spare time and family life further promoted the integration of healthy lifestyles in the daily habits of the highly educated normal weight group. In the less educated group with high BMI the opposite occurred.