New interdisciplinary approaches including fat studies, fat pedagogy, critical weight studies and critical health education have attempted to challenge forms of weight-based oppression associated with obesity discourse within education settings. Very little is known about young people’s views of these alternative critical approaches. Theoretically informed by these perspectives, this article examines girls’ responses to the messages of these alternative frameworks about weight and health and the utility of these perspectives as a possible approach to challenging weight-centric health education. The article presents unique findings from a study examining these responses within a secondary school context. The aim of the study was to introduce other ways of knowing fatness and health, which did not privilege the dominant biomedical knowledge of obesity discourse. Twenty-four girls aged 12–13 years participated in a series of interactive focus groups as part of a workshop designed to introduce them to fat pedagogy and critical health education perspectives. A feminist poststructural discourse analysis revealed that whilst the girls welcomed a fat pedagogy approach, they also identified barriers for its implementation in schools; the hegemony of obesity discourse which was compounded by the neoliberal logics of a postfeminist sensibility; the tensions between obesity discourse and body confidence messages in schools; and the dominance of a transmission model of health education in schools.
- critical health education
- focus groups
- young people
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation