April 14, 2008
Perceptions of overweight and obesity by mums of children aged 2-5 years
Focus groups with 32 mothers of children aged 2-5 years, conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Overweight and Obesity , found mothers:-
- felt responsible for how their child ate
- were aware their children needed to eat healthy food and keep active but found it difficult due to financial constraints, advertising and marketing pressures, lack of play areas
- felt judged by how their child ate and their weight. Praise was given if their child ate well but criticised if their child was thin or a fussy eater
- worried about their child being underweight and not eating enough. They spent a lot of time encouraging them to eat more
- thought it was better if their child carried a bit of extra weight or ‘puppy fat’ rather than be thin. They believed the extra weight would be lost as the child grew.
Feeding children is an emotional and stressful issue for mothers. Health professionals can assist mothers by acknowledging their anxieties regarding food and weight and by providing them with information and parenting behavioural techniques. These include:- informing them a parents role is not force a child to eat but to provide healthy food- the child decides how much to eat; switch off the TV while eating; serve small portions; don’t give treats everyday.
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