Children’s Knowledge About Factors Associated With the Maintenance of Normal Bodyweight
K. Goodall1
1Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, UK
Rising rates of childhood obesity worldwide highlight the need to address issues of diet and exercise in the early years. Little is known about children’s conceptualisations of factors associated with the maintenance of normal bodyweight. This study investigated children’s knowledge of food intake and exercise in relation to changes in weight. 72 children age 5-12 years (m= 36; f=34) participated in a vignette-based semi-structured interview around topics such as food composition, food intake and exercise. The data was analysed using content analysis. The findings indicate a developmental progression, with greater understanding of biological causal mechanisms from age 9 onwards. Under nines provided mainly mechanical explanations and endorsed a hereditary component to obesity. The conceptualization of foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ was seen across all ages. Information-based interventions to target childhood obesity need to be tailored to the developmental level of the child. The majority of participants demonstrated awareness of health education concepts, however conceptualisations at some ages may be counterproductive in encouraging health-related behaviours.