The acceptability of evidence-informed guidance for parents in talking to their children about weight

Fran Baber, Fiona Gillison, Elisabeth Grey

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Abstract

Background: Many parents express concern about the impact of talking to children about weight on their self-esteem and wellbeing. The aim of this study was to explore the perceived relevance, utility and acceptability of new guidance for parents on talking to children about weight, developed to apply theory, evidence and expert advice into practice. Methods: For this qualitative study, parents and public health practitioners (PHPs) were recruited from ten local authorities in England, through the National Child Measurement Programme between June and September 2021. Participants were sent a copy of the guidance document and took part in an interview approximately one week later. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and explored using thematic analysis. Results: 12 parents and 15 PHPs took part, and were similar in their responses reporting the guidance to be acceptable, relevant and helpful. Theme 1 explored how the guidance reduced perceptions of stigma and blame through the perspective and tone that was adopted. Theme 2 explored how the guidance could provide reassurance and increase confidence as a result of case study examples, and specific tips and advice. Theme 3 explored the extent to which participants perceived the advice to be realistic and how it could fit with existing PHP practice. Suggestions for improvement included adapting for relevance for lower income families and providing separate advice for parents of older and younger children. Conclusions: The guidance was perceived as relevant and needed; it showed potential to reduce parents’ negative affect and concerns, and improve confidence around talking to children about weight.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1357
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume23
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the parents and public health practitioners who participated in the study for their time and invaluable perspectives.

Keywords

  • Child weight
  • Child wellbeing
  • Health communication
  • Parent-child communication
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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