What do young women with obesity want from a weight management program?

  • Natalie D. CrinoEmail author
  • Helen M. Parker
  • Janelle A. Gifford
  • K. Y. Karen Lau
  • Eliya M. Greenfield
  • Cheyne E. Donges
  • Nicholas J. O’Dwyer
  • Katharine S. Steinbeck
  • Helen T. O’Connor
Original Article



Early adulthood is a high-risk time for weight gain; however, young women with obesity are difficult to recruit to weight management programs. To encourage participation and retention, it is important to understand what young women want from these programs. The purpose of the study was to explore participants’ perspectives on the features of an ideal weight management program.


Semi-structured interview schedules were used to elicit information from eight focus groups [27 women; mean age of 29.1 (± 5.1) years, mean body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) of 35.8 (± 2.9)]. The focus groups were transcribed, coded and analyzed qualitatively.


The themes that emerged were program content, format, program characteristics, program name, location and duration. A major finding from the study is that participants value a program that includes nutritional, psychological and lifestyle interventions, and includes components that are not traditionally part of weight management programs such as body acceptance, sexual health and dressing and grooming. A program name that conveys wellness and body positivity was valued. Participants highlighted the importance of individualized programs that are also tailored to the needs of young adults, and delivered by credible and approachable staff who provide accountability. Cost-effectiveness, flexibility, accessibility, time-commitment were important considerations and the use of a combination of virtual and in-person methods (including group interventions) appealed to this cohort.


Knowledge of program features which resonate with young women facilitates development of innovative ways to engage and support evidence-based weight management in this vulnerable group.

Level of evidence



Weight management program Young women with obesity 



The study was funded by Australian Rotary Health and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). The funding paid for research time to undertake the study, analyze the results and write up the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was provided by the Ethics Review Committees of the University of Sydney (Project No: 2014/1018) and Charles Sturt University (Project No: 2014/050).

Informed consent

All participants provided formal voluntary informed consent prior to commencement.

Supplementary material

40519_2019_763_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie D. Crino
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helen M. Parker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janelle A. Gifford
    • 2
  • K. Y. Karen Lau
    • 3
  • Eliya M. Greenfield
    • 1
  • Cheyne E. Donges
    • 4
  • Nicholas J. O’Dwyer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Katharine S. Steinbeck
    • 5
  • Helen T. O’Connor
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Charles Perkins CentreThe University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of SydneyLidcombeAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  4. 4.School of Exercise Science, Sport and HealthCharles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia
  5. 5.The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical SchoolUniversity of SydneyWestmeadAustralia
  6. 6.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of SydneyLidcombeAustralia

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