Childhood obesity: Investigating parental experience and family processes.

Alison Ram

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Childhood obesity is a serious and ongoing public health concern, with the many negative physical and psychological outcomes well documented in the literature. The experience of parenting an obese child however is less well researched, particularly in relation to overall family functioning (a factor related to the aetiology of childhood obesity). The current study aimed to explore family processes and the experience of parents in relation to childhood obesity. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with the parents of obese children, including six mothers, three fathers and one step-parent. Participants described several characteristics relating to the way in which they parented their child; characteristics of their children and how they appeared to interact with others (including themselves); as well as an account of how they have experienced their child’s weight status as a parent. Grounded theory analysis revealed that the bi-directional relationship between parent and child may contribute to a child’s weight status, and that the consequences of the child’s weight as experienced by both parent and child may also lead to its maintenance. The past experiences of parents and how these may influence parenting style was also found to be an important factor, influencing the overall emotional context of the family, the interactions between parent and child, and ultimately the child’s weight status. The current research highlights the importance of systemic and relational aspects in the aetiology and maintenance of childhood obesity.20
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Award date1 Nov 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

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