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Addressing the Obesity Debate: A Consumer Point of View

December 20, 2004

In light of the emergence of overweight and obesity as a major public health concern, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation wanted to better understand how consumers think about health and weight management. The IFIC Foundation asked Strategy One to conduct qualitative research to explore how consumer think and feel about overweight and obesity in general and their weight and health in particular. Using the findings from this research, the IFIC Foundation plans to identify communication principles and message concepts that consumers would find helpful in managing health and weight.

The research was designed to address two key questions. First, how do consumers think about their weight? Questions were designed to explore how consumers regard their overall health, i.e., their eating and physical activity habits. Second, what are the barriers to better managing weight and what are the motivators? Questions were designed to identify what prevents consumers from paying more attention to health matters—specifically, food and exercise habits—and what inspires consumers to take action.

This research was conducted in three phases. In Phase One, focus groups were conducted to explore the questions above and to identify concepts and communication principles that would lead to the development of motivating messages. In Phase Two, ethnographic studies were conducted on a small, but diverse sample of families in order to see first hand how health, weight, food and physical activity habits were formed and supported in each family’s home. The families involved in Phase Two also reviewed and provided feedback on several preliminary message concepts. Based on this feedback, these messages were refined. During Phase Three, a series of focus groups was conducted to get feedback to and insights into the refined messages.

Only Phase One of this research is being posted at this time. Phases Two and Three were completed in late 2003.


Note: While the findings of focus groups provide useful insights into a particular subject and allow researchers to unearth unanticipated key issues, it is important to note that the results of focus groups are not statistically valid. In other words, one cannot project the findings of a single group, or for that matter, multiple focus groups to the entire population.

View Phase I (PDF)

Appendix: Phase I (PDF)

View Phases II and III (PDF)

Appendix: Phase III (PDF)

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