'Health and happiness is more important than weight': A qualitative investigation of the views of parents receiving written feedback on their child's weight as part of the national child measurement programme

H. Syrad, C. Falconer, L. Cooke, S. Saxena, A. S. Kessel, R. Viner, S. Kinra, J. Wardle, H. Croker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The present study aimed to explore parental perceptions of overweight children and associated health risks after receiving National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) weight feedback. Methods: Fifty-two parents of overweight and obese children aged 4-5 years and 10-11 years enrolled in the NCMP programme in England in 2010-2011 participated in qualitative, semi-structured interviews about their perceptions of their child's weight and health risk after receiving weight feedback. Interviews were audio tape recorded and were conducted either by telephone (n = 9) or in the respondents' homes (n = 41). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretative thematic analysis. Results: Parents who received NCMP written feedback informing them that their child was overweight disregarded the results because they viewed 'health and happiness as being more important than weight'. The feedback was viewed as less credible because it did not consider the individual child's lifestyle. 'Broad definitions of healthy' were described that did not include weight, such as reference to the child having good emotional and physical health and a healthy diet. Parents attributed weight to 'inherited/acquired factors' such as genetics or puppy fat, or did not regard their child's 'appearance' as reflecting being overweight. 'Cultural influence' also meant that being overweight was not viewed negatively by some non-white parents. Conclusions: After receiving written weight feedback, parents use methods other than actual weight when evaluating their child's weight status and health risks. Parents' conceptions of health and weight should be considered when communicating with parents, with the aim of bridging the gap between parental recognition of being overweight and subsequent behaviour change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Authors Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Dietetic Association.

Keywords

  • Children
  • Feedback
  • Obesity
  • Parents
  • Perceptions
  • Weight

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