How Obesity Affects Relationships English Language Essay

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The aim of the present study is to consider the experience of being obese and how that effects a persons relationships. Five participant were selected for the study. For the interviews Grounded theory was used as the interviews were recorded on a voice recorder and analysed afterwards. Then indentified codes were grouped into five categories. The idea was that following analysis of the interviews it would be possible to identify how obese people feel about their self esteem and their relationships to others. It was found that most participants feel similarly about how their obesity affects their relationships in that it causes them to be depressed and stressed. This is usually due to them physically not being able to do all the things other non-obese people are able to do. The results of the tests also showed that people have different reasons for being obese such as being lonely or not having many friends all of which that leads them to eating more.


Obesity is can be defined as a condition of abnormal or unnecessary fat accumulation in adipose tissue, to the extent that health may be damaged. The causal disease is the unwanted positive energy balance and weight gain. Obesity has become a major problem for health clinics in the last decades of the 20th century and 21st century Taylor (1991). Obesity is measured using the body mass index (BMI) which is a simple index of weight for height that is being used to categorise adults into underweight, overweight and obese categories. It's calculated by dividing an individual's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2) Gereva (1999).

Extreme obesity is associated with a higher rate of death mainly for those in middle adulthood, Jamie Pearce and Karen Witten (2010). In addition obesity is considered a risk issue for the development of several chronic diseases including heart disease, primary diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In addition obesity may also cause problems for an individual in other areas of their life ranging from their socioeconomic status to their marriage. Obesity can also increase the severity certain diseases later in life like arthritis and is related to higher rates of functional Himes (2000).

According to Jeffery Sobal, Barbara S. Rauschenback and Edward Frongilio in (1995) that 74% men and 60% of women report that they would be uncomfortable dating someone who is obese. People who are obese and are in a relationship often find that they face quite unique challenges. Obese people or individuals might find that they have negative experiences due to their obesity in their interpersonal relationships and social lives with peers, family, and romantic partners. Furthermore obese people also appear to experience some difficulties in romantic partnerships. At the same time as heavier women found their relationships less satisfying, heavier men were more satisfied with their relationships. Phillips and Hill (1998).

According to Peter G. Kopelman, Ian D. Caterson, William H. Dietz (2007) obese individuals are often anticipated as less desirable candidates for any of these roles, and being unpopular and having a small number of friends. These cases may be true according to the studies they also have indicated that obese women are extra unhappy with family relationships, partner relationships and social activities than slimmer women and have fewer close friends than slimmer women. Other studies have found obesity positively linked with loneliness and that obese individuals believe that their weight gets in the way in their participation in social activities.

According to Ramirez in (2005) obese people could deal with heightened consequences in family relationships. The family members are reported to be the most frequent sources of weight stigma for the obese person. Furthermore some work has shown significantly lower levels of support for severely obese persons in their family relationships.



Participants were being invited to the quiet class room and given the information about the study that they participating in. Before the beginning of the interview they were told that they have right to withdraw anytime if they were not happy about any of the questions or if they felt uncomfortable in any way. During the interview participants were informed that the purpose of the study is to see how their relationships are is effected by their self-esteem. Furthermore in the interview they were asked to respond to open questions and general questions designed to identify the interviewee's self-esteem. There were five interviewee's and the instruction and guidelines were the same for everyone but each interview was conducted by different interviewers in different places and at different times. Each interview took around 15 to 20 minutes.

Data analysis

Interviews were analysed using Grounded theory. The interviews were recorded using a voice recorder with the permission of the participant before the interview started. The data was collected and transcribed in order. The interviews were examine by using non- hierarchical open coding, identifying codes (labels) first and then grouping them into categories (themes).


The positive and negatives of being in a relationship

Obesity and self- esteem obesity

Body image


Consequences of being obesity

All the five participants were selected to see if their self-esteem affected their relationship and then they were interviewed about their relationship with their partner. The interview was recorded on a voice recorder and coded and analysed later.

All of the participants were not happy with their body image and how they looked. For example, participant 4 admitted that one of the reasons that he/she became obese was because she/he was eating too much food and having too large portions and also eating when it wasn't necessary to eat. Furthermore, one of the big side effects is that obesity leads to other problems, such as struggling to walk for longer distances. Participant 4 also mentioned how much this has affected his/her relationship with their partner because of the size of his/her body. She/he also stated that she/he would feel "uncomfortable" and "not confident" to change his / her clothes in front of their partner.

The positive and negative being in a relationship

Participant 3 explained the emotional feelings of being in a relationship … I do say we don't get to spend as much time with each over as I would like to so I guess that has led to some insecurities with me becoming pretty insecure and having some trust issues, other than that things are pretty positive(11,12,13 and 14).

Participant 3 she/he pointed out that "the positive thing about being in a relationship is sharing feelings and understanding each other and sharing good and bad experiences."

Participant 1 said the same thing that …always someone I can talk to. I can share my personal experience in general. The negatives about is that…can't.. you know sometimes you just want to go out…

Participant 4 "you know sometimes I just when to by myself for example when I argue with Thomas I just hated it just not nice you know and on this day we argue a lot …(26)."

On the other hand the positive thing being in a relationship is that "the person you love seeing him every day in your life, I think it is amazing understanding, sharing good things and bad things….(26)"

The above quotes shows that the negative and positive things associated with being in a relationship and how the participants feel about these things. The first quotes shows that she/he does not feel secure because they do not spend enough time with each other like other couples. This could be that the participant had low self esteem about themselves and worried that if their partner compared them to a non-obese person and they feel her/his partner will leave them. Also the participant even reports that they would not trust their partner.

Similarly to participant 1, participant 4 also pointed out that she/he feels an understanding for each other and feels happy to talk about their future together and they also established that the negative thing about being in a relationship is that of not being able to go out together because of other people judging them on the way that she/he looks compared to the way that their partner looks. This demonstrates that a person's body image is very important to how they feel about themselves and shows that it can have a large effect on a person's self-esteem.

Obesity and self esteem (the reasons why people become obesity)

…sometimes I don't comfortable because I feel overweight, like I want to lose weight but it's just really hard. And especially in this day and age where so much emphasis is put in the way someone looks, I feel I looks people are always judging me and comparing to him, in terms of looks wherever I go. (page 2 participant 2).

The above quote supports Jeffery Sobal, Barbara S. Rauschenback and Edward Frongilio study in 1995 which found that obese or overweight people are not comfortable with the way they are and that most of the time they feel like they are being judged about the way they look. Nearly all participants felt that aspect of low self esteem the way people are looked at them.

Participant 4 said that being obese does not feel good because it prevents them from doing certain things that they would like to do but are not able to do physically because they are obese. Activities which require physical exertion are difficult for an individual feeling tired and unfit due to obesity.

Body image

All of the participants gave similar reasons for being uncomfortable in front of their partner. Low self-esteem, feeling conscious about their body image are the main causes for their feelings of depression and anxiety. Moreover the participants seem to share similar feelings about body image. For example, participant 1 answered that "I don't know, sometimes I just feel conscious about my belly, how it looks. When I'm being alone with my partner I am scared that my belly is moving." (12)

Participant 4 also said similar things that "…I don't change my clothes in front of him I don't know I just really feel not comfortable to take of my clothes even(laughs) the light has to be off (laughs) but first when we meet up I was ok so it doesn't bother me if the lights it on but now I just don't feel comfortable."(15). sometimes, I feel self-conscious sometimes especially being in a relationship because sometimes I don't feel comfortable in my own skin and I get worried what if he meets someone else. (page 2 participant 2)

Participant 3.. "im not the most confident of people so I do get a little shy with him when we were friends. Now I have to make sure I am fully done up before he sees me in front of him, maybe due to own lack of confidence. It's strange though as I wasn't this shy with him when we were friends. Now I have to make sure I am fully dome up before he sees me wouldn't dare let him see me without hair or make up done." (31,32, to 35)

Participant 4 said as well that … "I don't really like to look at myself in bathroom mirrors … I'm not happy the way I'm you know but I'm trying, I just want to be a normal size like everyone else."" (21)


Participant 4…"I'm starting to have high blood pressure, besides, it getting harder to walk for long time sometimes I get depressed" (23)

Participant 4 suggested that the condition of her/his health is getting bad and that it's harder to live her/his day to day life. There are so many health problem comes being obesity such as stroke, heart disease, also there are different types of cancer that are associated with obesity.

Consequences of being obesity

There are some may consequences of being obese one of them could be losing their relationship which could then lead to the person being depressed or developing other health problems. The quote below from participant 4 reinforces this: "I'm thinking I don't think this relationship it will not last for longer I get depressed and that is the time we start argue with simple thing you know.

Metha and Chang (2009) have suggested that obesity may lead to many different illnesses such as, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. For instance, participant 4 said that they were starting to have high bold pressure and they also said that they were experiencing depression about the way their body image is perceived compared to other people. Moreover, participant 4 said that she/he was finding it harder to walk for longer distances.

The above shows what Peter G. Kopelman, Ian D. Caterson, William H. Dietz (2007) had mentioned about being obese and about the fact that obese people are likely to have fewer friends and to experience unhappiness in a relationship with their family. The possible reason for this could be explained by the participant's feelings of low self-esteem about themselves and the way they looked. This shows how obesity influences a person's self-esteem and leads them to have a negative body image and affects their relationship with their partner.


The purpose of the study was to investigate how obesity effects a person's personal relationships. By using Grounded theory and conducting interviews with obese interviewee's who were unaware that the true purpose of the study was to investigate their obesity it was possible to get truthful and unbiased answers from them. A number of interesting points arose during these interviews which reaffirmed many passed studies on the area including the negative impact of obesity on self-esteem, the negative effect of obesity on self-image and the negative impact of obesity on general health and well-being. These factors seem to be effecting the relationships of the participants interviewed to varying degrees in their lives, further confirming how obesity can sometimes have a negative impact on an individuals relationships.