Managing overweight: Children's stories of their journey through treatment and beyond

Prof Doc Thesis

Watson, Libby 2011. Managing overweight: Children's stories of their journey through treatment and beyond. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWatson, Libby
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study explored young people's experiences of attending a childhood obesity
programme - how they recounted their 'journey' in managing their weight from
pre-treatment, through to at least a year since its completion. Childhood obesity
has risen dramatically and is associated with physical and psychological health
problems. Despite promising outcomes of childhood obesity programmes in
reducing overweight and improving self-esteem, there are notable gaps in the
literature. There is little insight into children's lived experiences of both receiving
treatment and managing their weight once treatment has ended. This is of
particular concern considering the ubiquity of relapse rates and the dearth of
research into weight-management during adolescence - when independent
choice, peer influences, and the potential for problematic eating behaviours
increase. Semi-structured interviews of fourteen young people were analysed
using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, which provided scope to capture
and contextualise the richness and complexity of their experiences. Three analytic
themes are presented: 'fun'; 'the power and influence of others', and 'the changed
self. Children experienced a sense of 'flow' as they engaged in activities during
the programme, detracting from negative feelings. Throughout all stages of
participants' 'journey', family members and peers were facilitating or constraining
figures in their healthy lifestyle endeavours. Participants described changing -
they learnt things, noticed physical changes, and felt better about themselves.
Changes were commonly related to their time during treatment. Whilst many
spoke of maintaining changes, participants also recounted forgetting what they
had learnt and 'slipping back' into unhealthy habits. Participants also described
being 'changed' by external factors, such as routine changes, life events, and
'growing up'. Practice implications include the benefit of 'booster' sessions and
post-programme support. For participants, weight loss was not always the most
important outcome; research and action should question assumptions of what is
'important', and which level interventions are best placed.

Publication dates
PrintMay 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2014
Additional information

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