The effects of being perceived as overweight on children’s social relationships: What do young people and teachers think about ‘the overweight child’?
Date: 11 June 2012
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
DEdPsy in Educational, Child & Community Psychology
Study One aimed to provide a current understanding of pupils’ attitudes towards people who are overweight and the prevalence and significance of weight-based unkindness in school. Methods: The study followed a mixed method, sequential qualitative and quantitative research design. Part One of the study used exploratory focus groups to ...
Study One aimed to provide a current understanding of pupils’ attitudes towards people who are overweight and the prevalence and significance of weight-based unkindness in school. Methods: The study followed a mixed method, sequential qualitative and quantitative research design. Part One of the study used exploratory focus groups to ascertain that weight-based unkindness was a valid concern for children and young people, when compared against unkindness of other content. The focus group also ensured that the vignettes used in the survey (Part Two) were ecologically valid. Part Two included an existing measure of weight-stigma (attitude scale) and three sets of vignette-based questions to measure pupils’ perceptions of the frequency and severity of different incidents of unkindness. Part Two, was administered to 214 participants via a computerised survey. Results: The majority of pupils (61%) judged the overweight characters to be the least accepted. Participants also perceived significantly greater hurt, anger, embarrassment and humour to follow episodes of weight-based unkindness. Study Two aimed to better understand why, how and what is ‘different’ about pupils’ understanding of weight-based unkindness when compared to other types of unkindness. Methods: This study adopted an explorative approach to hear the lived experiences of six teachers and 29 children in two South West Primary Schools. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews, administered through focus groups (pupils) and paired interviews (teachers). Data was analysed using latent thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results: The study found that pupils used the language of personal choice to attribute personal responsibility to overweight CYP, whilst teachers attributed this blame to their parents. Teachers espoused acceptance for the overweight whilst their behaviours implicitly reinforced the ‘thin-ideal’. Key findings are discussed from a theoretical perspective and their implication for supporting attitude change is highlighted.
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