Obesity Stigma and its psychological implications- Update 2 – First Draft

As week three of four draws to a close, I have finished the second stage of my research process- outlining and writing. The outlining part of stage 2 was a relatively quick process. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I had already begun envisioning what I wanted to do with the final product while I was still in the process of searching for sources, so all I really had to on that front was write down my plan.

Here is my outline:

Abstract

Introduction

  • Obesity is a widespread problem (obesity rates, etc.)
  • Obesity related to health problems (list, provide sources)
  • In addition, obesity is heavily stigmatised
  • Stigma related to psychological and physiological issues

Section 1: Obesity stigma

  • Prevalence of obesity stigma- articles about how widespread, commonplace and generally socially accepted obesity stigma is
  • Nature of obesity stigma- articles about how obesity stigma is manifested
  • Gap in the research- there should be more research about personal characteristics associated with obesity stigma

Section 2: Psychological implications of obesity stigma

  • Psychological problems related to obesity stigma (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.)
  • Other factors that influence this relationship
  • Talk about internalization of weight stigma- associations with psychological problems

Section 3: Solutions

  • Preventing/ limiting enacted obesity stigma- how this helps
  • Preventing/ limiting weight self-stigma, negative body image- how this helps

Conclusion

  • Talk more about gaps in the research
  • Wrap it all up nicely

After finishing the outline, I moved on to writing the paper itself. I left the abstract for last because I wanted to have an abstract that reflected the actual content of my paper, rather than the content of my outline. Instead, I started with the introduction. I wrote slowly, spending a day or two each on the intro, section 1 and section 2, with about half that amount of time devoted to the solutions and conclusion sections.

While writing, I found some consistency issues in my research that had gone unnoticed through the compiling process. While some topics were handled in the appropriate depth of detail, other parts felt lacking. I simply didn’t have enough sources to go into the same level of detail about anxiety as I did about depression or eating disorders, for example.

Looking back, I think this problem came about for two main reasons. 1) My topic is too broad. I should have picked one psychological disorder or one type of potential solution to focus on. 2) I neglected the specifics while compiling sources into broad categories. For example, I found a lot of information about obesity discrimination and thought I had enough to say everything I wanted to say. However, the information I found was imbalanced. I found myself going into detail about weight discrimination in the workplace, but when I tried to do the same for weight discrimination in healthcare, I was unable to do so. On top of this, I’m sure there are categories of research underneath my large topical umbrella that I didn’t even begin to touch. In order to write the “comprehensive” review I hoped to write, I would’ve needed much more time.

Despite these issues, my first draft is still a decent paper. While I didn’t have enough time to go into depth about all the examples I used, I still have a decent framework of the big picture. Over the next week, I plan to find more sources in order to flesh out examples and to cut out the unnecessary details.

So far, writing this paper has been a good learning experience that has taught me how to better focus my research into a manageable workload.

Comments

  1. micrittenden says:

    Hey Ian,

    It was great to read about the progress you’ve had with your research! I have also had some complications with the scope of my research: I want it to be specific enough that I don’t have to talk about every aspect of foreign aid, but I also need the basic knowledge on foreign aid that a wider scope provides. Did you face similar problems with preliminary understanding of your research topic, or has your work been a continuation of previous experience/work/studies?

    Also, I was wondering about the gap in the research for section 1: the “personal characteristics associated with obesity stigma.” Are you referring to the self-stigma and negative body image that you refer to later in the outline, or a different set of characteristics? Why do you think they have gone under-researched compared to the topics of obesity stigma prevalence and nature? I’m also curious about the “other factors” that you refer to under section 2. What are they? And lastly, how can we help create a community with less obesity-stigma in our everyday lives and avoid doing things that we think help but might actually be harmful?

    Best of luck with finishing your project!
    Matt

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