“I would rather be told than not know” - A qualitative study exploring parental views on identifying the future risk of childhood overweight and obesity during infancy

Bentley, Faye, Swift, Judy A., Cook, Rachel and Redsell, Sarah A. (2017) “I would rather be told than not know” - A qualitative study exploring parental views on identifying the future risk of childhood overweight and obesity during infancy. BMC Public Health, 17. p. 684. ISSN 1471-2458

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4684-y


BACKGROUND: Risk assessment tools provide an opportunity to prevent childhood overweight and obesity through early identification and intervention to influence infant feeding practices. Engaging parents of infants is paramount for success however; the literature suggests there is uncertainty surrounding the use of such tools with concerns about stigmatisation, labelling and expressions of parental guilt. This study explores parents' views on identifying future risk of childhood overweight and obesity during infancy and communicating risk to parents. METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 23 parents and inductive, interpretive and thematic analysis performed. RESULTS: Three main themes emerged from the data: 1) Identification of infant overweight and obesity risk. Parents were hesitant about health professionals identifying infant overweight as believed they would recognise this for themselves, in addition parents feared judgement from health professionals. Identification of future obesity risk during infancy was viewed positively however the use of a non-judgemental communication style was viewed as imperative. 2) Consequences of infant overweight. Parents expressed immediate anxieties about the impact of excess weight on infant ability to start walking. Parents were aware of the progressive nature of childhood obesity however, did not view overweight as a significant problem until the infant could walk as viewed this as a point when any excess weight would be lost due to increased energy expenditure. 3) Parental attributions of causality, responsibility, and control. Parents articulated a high level of personal responsibility for preventing and controlling overweight during infancy, which translated into self-blame. Parents attributed infant overweight to overfeeding however articulated a reluctance to modify infant feeding practices prior to weaning. CONCLUSION: This is the first study to explore the use of obesity risk tools in clinical practice, the findings suggest that identification, and communication of future overweight and obesity risk is acceptable to parents of infants. Despite this positive response, findings suggest that parents' acceptance to identification of risk and implementation of behaviour change is time specific. The apparent level of parental responsibility, fear of judgement and self-blame also highlights the importance of health professionals approach to personalised risk communication so feelings of self-blame are negated and stigmatisation avoided.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Childhood, Feeding, Infant, Obesity, Obesity risk, Overweight, Parents, Risk communication
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2017 14:26
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:58
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/702211

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