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Young children's perceptions of peer obesity in the context of other visible differences

Charsley, Joanna Sarah (2016) Young children's perceptions of peer obesity in the context of other visible differences. D.Clin.Psychol thesis, University of Leeds.

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The increasing prevalence of childhood obesity is of serious concern due to its negative physical health and psychosocial consequences. Overweight and obese children often become the target of negative stereotypes and weight-based stigmatisation, and it has been suggested that anti-fat attitudes are held by children as young as three years old. This study aimed to address methodological limitations in the current literature by engaging young children in qualitative research to explore their attitudes towards fatness in the context of other visible differences. 85 children aged 4 – 6 took part in a semi-structured interview using a dyadic approach within Kelly’s repertory grid methodology. The children were asked about the visibility and desirability of physical differences in four illustrated characters. They were also asked about their self-image and friendship preferences, and the reasons for their answers. Data from the repertory grids were analysed quantitatively and thematic analysis was used to explore the qualitative data resulting from open-ended interview questions. The results showed that the majority of children did not consider fatness to be the primary differentiating physical characteristic between peers. They showed a general preference for categorical similarity in their friendship choices and did not demonstrate predominant negativity towards fatness when considering their actual and ideal self-image. There were, however, a minority of children who identified negative characterisations and beliefs, which were reflective of fat stereotypes in the media, and that are evidenced in first hand reports by people with obesity. The findings indicate that negativity towards fatness amongst this age group have been previously overstated due to the nature of the research methods used. The repertory grid methodology enabled the direction of the study to be guided by the children, which allowed the expression of a few specific anti-fat attitudes within the broader context of negativity towards other ‘not-like-me’ visible differences.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Clin.Psychol)
Keywords: obesity; overweight; fat; children; young; perception; attitudes; personal construct; repertory grid; difference; anti-fat; stigma; prejudice.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Health Sciences (Leeds) > Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Medicine (Leeds)
Depositing User: Miss Joanna Charsley
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 11:20
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2018 01:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13712

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