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There is evidence that many children and parents of overweight children do not recognize their overweight. However, those
electing to be interviewed can provide insight into how awareness is raised and the process parents? journey through before
taking action. The aim here was to explore children?s awareness of overweight and parental thinking with regard to their child?s
weight management. Data are presented from two studies; one with 78 children aged 9-10 years and a second with parents of 40,
overweight children aged 4-15 years. Both studies were qualitative investigations conducted in central and South West England
using semi-structured interviews. The children?s study included all those in Year 5 in three schools and was supplemented with
anthropometric and questionnaire data. Parental interviews were supplemented with body shapes used as prompts. Sampling
was purposive to ensure an age range of children. Parents who had concerns about their children?s weight were interviewed in
their homes. In both studies analyses were thematic (based on Grounded Theory) and iterative (using a constant comparison
approach). Children showed a clear awareness of overweight and the social impact of that awareness. Parents described how they
became aware, their coming to terms with that awareness and then the complex process of monitoring and self-help approaches
they went through before seeking professional help. Healthcare professionals may benefit from a better understanding of the child
and parents? perspective with respect to their awareness and the impact weight has on the family, as well as helping to manage
their overweight more effectively.
Laurel completed her Ph.D 13 years ago at the University Exeter and has worked at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, and as an Obesity
Research Consultant since then. She has authored a book (Management of Childhood Obesity), nine chapters, over 30 papers and 80 conference
presentations. She was one of five Specialist Advisors to the House of Commons Health Select Committee?s inquiry into obesity and a Co-opted
Expert to the NICE obesity guidelines. She continues to explore the evidence base via systematic reviews and the views of children, adolescents,
parents and other adults about their experiences of obesity.
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