'It’s been a lifelong thing for me': parents' experiences of facilitating a healthy lifestyle for their children with severe obesity

Saunders, Liz A., Jackson, Ben, Gibson, Lisa Y., Doust, Justine, Dimmock, James A., Davis, Elizabeth A., Price, Lyndsey, and Budden, Timothy (2023) 'It’s been a lifelong thing for me': parents' experiences of facilitating a healthy lifestyle for their children with severe obesity. BMC Public Health, 23 (1). 1176.

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Objective: For parents and guardians, assisting children/adolescents with severe obesity to lose weight is often a key objective but a complex and difficult challenge. Our aim in this study was to explore parents’ (and guardians’) perspectives on the challenges they have faced in assisting their children/adolescents with severe obesity to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Methods: Thirteen parents/guardians were interviewed from a pool of families who had been referred but did not engage between 2016 and 2018 (N = 103), with the Perth Children’s Hospital Healthy Weight Service, a clinical obesity program for children/adolescents (parent age M = 43.2 years, children age M = 10.3 years). Using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, we identified 3 broad themes.

Results: Parental weight-related factors reflected parents’ own lifelong obesity narrative and its effect on their own and their families’ ability to live a healthy lifestyle. Perceived inevitability of obesity in their child reflected parents’ feelings that the obesity weight status of their children/adolescent was a persistent and overwhelming problem that felt ‘out of control’. Lastly, parents reported challenges getting medical help stemming from co-morbid medical diagnosis in their child/adolescent, and difficulties with medical professionals.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that parents face challenges in supporting healthy lifestyle for children/adolescents with severe obesity due to parents own internal weight biases and their negative experiences within the healthcare system when seeking help.

Item ID: 79458
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2458
Keywords: Fixed mindset, Isolated and unsupported parents, Obesity narrative, Parental levels of obesity, Severe obesity, Weight stigma
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2023 01:20
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200501 Adolescent health @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200411 Overweight and obesity @ 50%
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