Age at interview: 67
Brief Outline: Zaida has lost and gained weight at various times in her life, and believes that weight problems come from a combination of DNA and lifestyle. She has tried to manage her weight in several ways over the years, but found that exercise and the 5:2 diet worked well for her. Although losing weight made Zaida feel “wonderful”, retirement, personal life and a sports injury have made it hard to maintain her diet and lifestyle changes.
Background: Zaida is 67. She is married and has 2 adult children. She previously worked as a university lecturer but has recently retired.

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Throughout her life, there have been times when Zaida has both lost and gained weight. Zaida started trying to lose weight in her adolescence by “being careful” and trying to be more active. When she moved abroad to study she gained weight, but lost some on her return. After having her children, Zaida also gained weight. She found it harder to lose it because of her lifestyle where she attended lots of dinner parties and events.

Zaida believes that there are several reasons for weight problems, particularly a combination of DNA and lifestyle. Zaida’s mother, her brother and his children have also had issues with their weight, so she feels this may be in her family. Zaida mentions that menopause is another reason for weight gain. She remembers that with menopause she started to get “slow”.

The main reason Zaida wants to manage her weight is to keep fit. This is important for health but also so that she does not have to rely on her children or the health service to look after her. Zaida has always done exercise. She finds it easy to do because it is something she loves, although age and injury have meant she has had to stop some sports. Zaida feels that keeping fit is important “…to keep this life with more enjoyment”.  

Zaida has tried several diets but found that she would lose weight and then gain it again. One diet Zaida managed to do for several months was the 5:2 diet. Her demanding work life meant that it was easier to stick to, because “I was so busy that I didn’t have time to eat”. On this diet Zaida lost some weight and felt “wonderful”. Fasting and losing weight gave her lots of energy, and she enjoyed being able to buy clothes that she couldn’t before. However, Zaida found the 5:2 diet hard to do when she didn’t have a routine. Now she is retired, there is too much temptation when she is at home, and her husband loves to cook comforting meals. Zaida feels that support from her husband would help her lose weight, “you have to have a bit of help from the family side”.

Zaida has not had any professional support with losing weight, although a nurse has given her tips on dieting. Zaida has not discussed her weight with her GP, although she has a thyroid condition, which means she has to take tablets every day. She wasn’t told that her condition was linked to weight gain and that the medicine would affect her weight.  

Zaida worries that obesity is putting pressure on the healthcare system, but believes that treating it is difficult. She suggests that therapy might help some people manage their weight. Zaida also feels that education is vital to weight management, though changing people’s mentality around food is not easy to do. Parents should make sure their children eat well from a young age, and helping the younger generation care for their weight should be a nation-wide effort.

When Zaida finds more routine in her life, she is considering doing the 5:2 diet again. She worries that because she cannot exercise as much due of her injury, it would be easy to go downhill. She is currently trying to eat healthily to maintain her weight. For now, “…maintaining, moving and enjoying life, friends and things is my main goal”.

Zaida’s university job involves a lot of dinners and drinking.

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Zaida’s university job involves a lot of dinners and drinking.


Otherwise the style of my life is at least 3 or 4 dinner parties a week. That will change I hope with retirement. The, the life of university name academics is a lot of alcohol. A week ago we went to university dinner. And it is amazing the several layers and several different rooms and each room with different drinks and it is more food and more food and then chocolate and this and that. So this kind of life is very difficult, you know, in order to, for me because I am a person that I love to eat [laugh]. You know, I have pleasure eating and I eat. I don’t eat little bits, you know, like birds some people can do that. But when the food just jumps on me I eat.

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