Parental perceptions of preschooler overweight and obesity: Implications for health providers
Chatwin, J. L. (2015). Parental perceptions of preschooler overweight and obesity: Implications for health providers (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9493
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9493
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in developed countries and is a serious public health issue in New Zealand. An increasing prevalence of young children identified as being overweight or obese has prompted a recent shift in research focus from older children to the pre-schooler population. Although the risk factors for young children becoming overweight or obese have been explored, there is little research that has focused solely on the perceptions of pre-schooler parents. The primary aim of this research was therefore to explore the perceptions of pre-schooler parents towards overweight and obesity in pre-schoolers. The secondary aim was to inform how health providers may effectively engage with pre-schooler parents and encourage them to participate in relevant interventions. Sixteen parents of pre-schoolers aged 3-5 years old who were concerned about their pre-schooler being overweight participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis identified five broad themes. Parents considered childhood overweight to be a serious health problem, although not necessarily in early childhood. Parents were apprehensive about the prospect of their pre-schooler being overweight when they were older and appeared more concerned about the psychosocial implications for their child than the physical health risks. They were conscious of being negatively evaluated by others, including their health provider. Barriers to a healthy lifestyle included the perceived high cost of healthy food options, time scarcity, and difficulty managing challenging behaviour, particularly around eating. Finally, specific cultural perceptions of childhood overweight were identified. The implications of these findings for health providers included the need to engage with pre-schooler parents in a sensitive and culturally responsive way when seeking to address overweight and obesity in the pre-schooler population.
University of Waikato
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