Background: Overweight and obesity are major health problems globally, particularly in men. Some group-based interventions for men, such as Football Fans in Training (FFIT), a gender-sensitised weight management and healthy living programme for overweight or obese men, have proven successful in helping men initiate and achieve weight loss. However, there is still a need to understand how men’s attempts to make changes to health practices are influenced by their social context. This study explored how men’s attempts to change their dietary practices and physical activity to lose weight and maintain weight loss were influenced by, and influenced, their cohabiting female partners within the context of FFIT. Method: Separate interviews were conducted with 20 men and their cohabiting female partners 3-12 months after men had completed FFIT. Their experiences around men’s participation in FFIT and subsequent attempts to change dietary practices and physical activity were explored. Data were thematically analysed, guided by Self-Determination, Social Support, Interdependence, and Gender theories. Results: All partners in this study were supportive of men’s autonomous decisions to join FFIT. Each partner displayed varied levels of involvement in the process of men’s attempts to make changes to dietary practices and physical activity. Men’s success or failure in making and maintaining changes, and/or achieving weight loss, was described as resulting from their resoluteness for the changes, responsiveness to FFIT and reliance on/receptiveness to the partner’s involvement and support. Men’s participation in FFIT also positively influenced the partners’ dietary practices and physical activity, as well as couples’ relationships despite some tensions and conflicts arising during this process. Conclusion: Cohabiting couples’ close relationships provide a supportive context for overweight or obese men to initiate the pursuit of weight loss, and maintain healthy dietary practices and physical activity. This study also highlights the mechanisms by which partners influence men’s changes to dietary practices and physical activity following a weight loss intervention, and how they too are influenced in this process. It thus helps explain how varying behaviour change outcomes can occur within an intervention. This study highlights the importance, and the bidirectional nature, of health behaviour change in the cohabiting couples’ context.
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
- Physical activity
- Couple research