Don't eat that, you'll get fat! Exploring how parents and children conceptualise and frame messages about the causes and consequences of obesity

Thomas, Samantha L., Olds, Timothy, Pettigrew, Simone, Randle, Melanie and Lewis, Sophie 2014, Don't eat that, you'll get fat! Exploring how parents and children conceptualise and frame messages about the causes and consequences of obesity, Social science and medicine, vol. 119, pp. 114-122, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.024.

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Title Don't eat that, you'll get fat! Exploring how parents and children conceptualise and frame messages about the causes and consequences of obesity
Author(s) Thomas, Samantha L.ORCID iD for Thomas, Samantha L.
Olds, Timothy
Pettigrew, Simone
Randle, Melanie
Lewis, Sophie
Journal name Social science and medicine
Volume number 119
Start page 114
End page 122
Total pages 9
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2014-10
ISSN 1873-5347
Keyword(s) Children
Summary Family interactions about weight and health take place against the backdrop of the wider social discourse relating to the obesity epidemic. Parents (and children) negotiate complex and often contradictory messages in constructing a set of beliefs and practices around obesity and weight management. Despite this, very little research attention has been given to the nature of family-unit discourse on the subject of body weight and it's potential influence on the weight-related behaviours of family members. This includes the broad influence that dominant socio-cultural discourses have on family conceptualisations of weight and health. Using in-depth qualitative interviews with 150 family 'groups' comprised of at least one parent and one child in Victoria and South Australia, we explored how parents and children conceptualise and discuss issues of weight- and health-related lifestyle behaviours. Data were analysed using Attride-Stirling's (2001) thematic network approach. Three thematic clusters emerged from the analysis. First, both parents and children perceived that weight was the primary indicator of health. However, parents focused on the negative physical implications of overweight while children focused on the negative social implications. Second, weight and lifestyle choices were highly moralised. Parents saw it as their responsibility to communicate to children the 'dangers' of fatness. Children reported that parents typically used negatively-framed messages and scare tactics rather than positively-framed messages to encourage healthy behaviours. Third was the perception among parents and children that if you were thin, then eating habits and exercise were less important, and that activity could provide an antidote to food choices. Results suggest that both parents and children are internalising messages relating to obesity and weight management that focus on personal responsibility and blame attribution. These views reflect the broader societal discourse, and their consolidation at the family level is likely to increase their potency and make them resistant to change.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.024
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2014, Elsevier
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Health and Social Development
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