Health discourses, slimness ideals, and attitudes to physical activities: Perspectives of young women in Denmark

Gertrud Ursula Pfister, Ninna With-Nielsen, Verena Lenneis

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Resumé

Studies conducted in Denmark reveal that many young women drop out of sport and exercise in their teenage years even though they possess good knowledge about health recommendations and the benefits of physical activity. This raises the question as to how they interpret and make use of the current messages about a healthy and active lifestyle. Based on five focus-group interviews and a survey among 784 female students aged 16-20, we explored their attitudes and practices with regard to physical activity and health. The analysis of the material is theoretically informed by the work of Foucauldian scholars who have used the concepts of governmentality and disciplinary power to explore current public health policies and young people’s health-related attitudes and practices. We found that for the participants in our study ‘health’ was inextricably intertwined with slimness and fitness, to which they ascribed great importance. The internalization of current ideals of the slim and fit body fueled aspirations but did not necessarily lead to the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle. We conclude that health messages and body ideals often cause anxieties and guilt among young women, which may even prevent engagement in sport and exercise.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Tidsskrift German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research
Vol/bind47
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)15-24
ISSN2509-3150
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Udgivet eksterntJa

Citer dette

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title = "Health discourses, slimness ideals, and attitudes to physical activities: Perspectives of young women in Denmark",
abstract = "Studies conducted in Denmark reveal that many young women drop out of sport and exercise in their teenage years even though they possess good knowledge about health recommendations and the benefits of physical activity. This raises the question as to how they interpret and make use of the current messages about a healthy and active lifestyle. Based on five focus-group interviews and a survey among 784 female students aged 16-20, we explored their attitudes and practices with regard to physical activity and health. The analysis of the material is theoretically informed by the work of Foucauldian scholars who have used the concepts of governmentality and disciplinary power to explore current public health policies and young people’s health-related attitudes and practices. We found that for the participants in our study ‘health’ was inextricably intertwined with slimness and fitness, to which they ascribed great importance. The internalization of current ideals of the slim and fit body fueled aspirations but did not necessarily lead to the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle. We conclude that health messages and body ideals often cause anxieties and guilt among young women, which may even prevent engagement in sport and exercise.",
author = "Pfister, {Gertrud Ursula} and Ninna With-Nielsen and Verena Lenneis",
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Health discourses, slimness ideals, and attitudes to physical activities : Perspectives of young women in Denmark. / Pfister, Gertrud Ursula; With-Nielsen, Ninna; Lenneis, Verena.

I: German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research , Bind 47, Nr. 1, 2017, s. 15-24.

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Health discourses, slimness ideals, and attitudes to physical activities

T2 - Perspectives of young women in Denmark

AU - Pfister, Gertrud Ursula

AU - With-Nielsen, Ninna

AU - Lenneis, Verena

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Studies conducted in Denmark reveal that many young women drop out of sport and exercise in their teenage years even though they possess good knowledge about health recommendations and the benefits of physical activity. This raises the question as to how they interpret and make use of the current messages about a healthy and active lifestyle. Based on five focus-group interviews and a survey among 784 female students aged 16-20, we explored their attitudes and practices with regard to physical activity and health. The analysis of the material is theoretically informed by the work of Foucauldian scholars who have used the concepts of governmentality and disciplinary power to explore current public health policies and young people’s health-related attitudes and practices. We found that for the participants in our study ‘health’ was inextricably intertwined with slimness and fitness, to which they ascribed great importance. The internalization of current ideals of the slim and fit body fueled aspirations but did not necessarily lead to the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle. We conclude that health messages and body ideals often cause anxieties and guilt among young women, which may even prevent engagement in sport and exercise.

AB - Studies conducted in Denmark reveal that many young women drop out of sport and exercise in their teenage years even though they possess good knowledge about health recommendations and the benefits of physical activity. This raises the question as to how they interpret and make use of the current messages about a healthy and active lifestyle. Based on five focus-group interviews and a survey among 784 female students aged 16-20, we explored their attitudes and practices with regard to physical activity and health. The analysis of the material is theoretically informed by the work of Foucauldian scholars who have used the concepts of governmentality and disciplinary power to explore current public health policies and young people’s health-related attitudes and practices. We found that for the participants in our study ‘health’ was inextricably intertwined with slimness and fitness, to which they ascribed great importance. The internalization of current ideals of the slim and fit body fueled aspirations but did not necessarily lead to the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle. We conclude that health messages and body ideals often cause anxieties and guilt among young women, which may even prevent engagement in sport and exercise.

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DO - 10.1007/s12662-017-0438-3

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VL - 47

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EP - 24

JO - German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research

JF - German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research

SN - 2509-3150

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