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

Liz A. Saunders, Ben Jackson, Lisa Y. Gibson, Justine Doust, James A. Dimmock, Elizabeth A. Davis, Lyndsey Price, Timothy Budden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1176
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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