Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


McGuire, Francis

Committee Member

Baldwin, Elizabeth

Committee Member

Granberg, Ellen

Committee Member

Kemper, Karen

Committee Member

Schmalz, Dorothy


Obesity is a global health crisis with complex causal relationships. From the mid 1990s to 2010, obesity related research in the clinical and social sciences has exploded. This expansion has resulted in a proliferation of obesity-related articles published in top-tier journals and the creation of new journals solely devoted to obesity research. In contrast within leisure scholarship, a review of leisure journals reveals that published research on the relationship of leisure, obesity and weight loss is minimal. However, numerous leisure scholarship/theory principles are relevant to obesity prevention and treatment. Similarly, public health officials have developed numerous systems-oriented multilevel framework models for addressing obesity (ecological models). A review of these models reveals targets where the application of leisure theory and practice could inform and facilitate obesity prevention and treatment. The value of this facilitation is supported by research demonstrating the power of leisure for personal life transformation that enables health improvements. Individual identity and personal choices are primary factors in lifestyle change and influence individual obesity treatment and prevention. It is at the intersection of public health, leisure scholarship and the individual that recreational therapies may provide a bridge for personal and collective success in the prevention and treatment of obesity. Using qualitative narrative via case-study methods, identity aspects of weight-loss support group leaders are examined. Observations will be made regarding the identity change process in light of modern identity theory and consideration will be given to demonstrated aspects of the Serious Leisure Perspective. Finally, a critical multiplist paradigm call to action is issued to scholars and practitioners.