A behavioral method first used to save malnourished children in Vietnam might not seem like it has much in common with a television program spurring Americans to lose weight, but it does. They both use the positive deviance approach, a concept that looks at people in a community who have successfully found better solutions to a widespread problem than their peers. These positive deviants, as they are called, are no different from anyone else, with no extra resources or skills, yet they have conquered their challenges better than most in the community.
With obesity becoming such a prevalent problem in our society today, positive deviants can have a great impact on their communities to encourage others that lasting weight loss is possible. The Weigh We Were, which premiered October 30 on Georgia’s Public Broadcasting Service, aims to do that by featuring real weight loss stories from people just like you.
The show was created by Kat Carney, former Consumer Health anchor for CNN Headline News, whose own weight loss story includes weighing 240 pounds 13 years ago before she successfully shed 90 pounds. She started a website hoping to inspire others with weight loss stories, and the television program grew out of that.
“There’s this constant messaging about weight loss that you can’t do it, but I knew you can do it – I did. I put out messages for real life weight loss stories, wanting just 4 or 5, but in the end, 32 people responded,” Carney said.
She said that the stories she heard were all amazing, but they were also surprisingly simple in how they achieved major results. The average weight loss of the participants was 98 pounds. Out of the 32 featured on the show, only two used commercial weight loss programs, while another two had bariatric surgery as part of their regimen to get fit.
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