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Title: Peer-to-peer responses to body shape in young children
Author: Kilmurray, Michelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 2936
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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There is global concern about the high prevalence of childhood obesity. It has been demonstrated that obese children face weight stigma in many aspects of their life. Experiencing childhood weight stigma has negative consequences for physical and psychological health, social relationships and academic development. Relatively little is known about the development of weight stigma in children, although parents, teachers, the media, and peers are thought to be the primary contributors. This study aimed to investigate peer-to-peer responses to overweight in young children. A paired reading interaction was used to examine peer responses to obesity and transmission of stigma. Each reading pair included a younger child (aged 5-7) and an older child (aged 9-11). Eighty nine reading pairs (172 children) read a story which was identical except for the body shape of the main character. Prompts were built into this story asking children to predict the ending and to discuss their favourite part of the story. Conversations were recorded and analysed using thematic analysis. The conversations were compared for any differences between the healthy and overweight conditions in references to body shape, content of conversations, valence of responses, and non-verbal communication. Overall, this study did not find clear evidence of negative attitudes to overweight. Within the results there were some occasions where there were significantly more negative comments or significantly less positive comments in the overweight condition, but this was not a clear pattern. There was also significantly more laughter in the overweight condition compared to the healthy weight condition. The results also demonstrated considerable variance in children’s views, with one pair being extremely negative about overweight Alfie. The current study suggests that the majority of young children (aged 5-7) have not yet developed weight stigma to a degree that previous literature might predict. This information is particularly valuable to those delivering health education or interventions related to preventing or tackling obesity.
Supervisor: Hill, Andrew J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available