Jarvis, Christine (2012) Learning to lose: weight loss classes and personal transformation. Studies in the Education of Adults, 44 (2). pp. 136-154. ISSN 0266-0830

Adult learning takes place not only in educational organisations, but through participation in leisure and special interest groups. Commercially operated weight management organisations recruit large numbers of adults to their classes to learn how to eat healthily and lose weight. They publish readers' 'real life' success stories in their magazines. This paper demonstrates that analysing these accounts contributes to our understanding of the kind of learning that results from membership of these organisations. It employs close textual analyses of the stories to generate insights that complement the knowledge about obesity and its management that comes from medical, therapeutic and scientific research. The analyses suggest that adults can experience significant changes in eating behaviours and lifestyle as a result of participation. They also report major changes in self confidence, success and relationships. It notes the dependency on the organisation created by the classes and the absence in the stories of any critique of social attitudes towards weight and body image and tentatively concludes that this may partially explain why such apparently life-changing learning is so often unsustainable.

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