1 Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
The desire to achieve a normal, culturally acceptable body is often seen as the main driver of food-consumption practices adopted by individuals who are concerned about their body weight. In social research into weight management self-control is therefore often a central theme. Turning the focus towards practices and values related to food shopping, this study adds to our understanding of central features in perceptions of normality among people with weight concerns. In a qualitative study 25 people who participated in a dietary intervention trial in Denmark were interviewed and five people were observed. The study shows that the aim of achieving a normal body does not eclipse the importance of enacting values linked to ideas of the ‘normal consumer’. Using empirical examples, the study illuminates how consumer freedom is attained in ways that are both complementary to, and in conflict with, practices and experiences of controlling food intake. The paper suggests that freedom and control are composite and complementary ideals of normality for people with weight concerns. On the basis of this insight, the authors discuss the contribution the paper makes to existing studies of weight management and food consumption.