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Exploring young children’s obesity stigma in a story completion task

Harrold, Louise (2017) Exploring young children’s obesity stigma in a story completion task. D.Clin.Psychol thesis, University of Leeds.

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The prevalence of childhood obesity, and its associated health and psychosocial implications, has risen and continues to be of concern. Children appear to hold anti-fat attitudes and stigmatise those who are seen as overweight or obese. Evidence suggests that children as young as three years old are known to hold anti-fat attitudes towards their obese peers, but as a result of the methodologies used in obesity studies, it is thought this may be an overestimation. The present study aimed to investigate young children’s obesity stigma in the context of a story completion task. It was hypothesised that there would be no difference in what children said about the personal characteristics of a fat character compared with a healthy weight character, before being presented in a negative context. However, when presented with a negative ending to a story, there would be evidence of more negative personal attributions towards a fat character compared to a healthy weight character. One hundred and thirty children, aged between 4 and 6 years old, participated in a story completion task using open ended questions. Children were read the first part of a story to introduce the child to the main character whose body shape was presented as either fat or healthy weight. The story continued and children were presented with either a positive (Gift) or negative (Greed) ending to the story. Each child was asked four open ended questions at different stages throughout the procedure. Qualitative data was analysed using framework analysis. The results supported the first hypotheses in that there was no difference in what children were saying about the personal characteristics of a fat character compared with a healthy weight character. Ninety two percent of children made neutral statements relating to the storyline or the characters. Whereas eight percent of children shared positive and negative statements about the fat and healthy weight character respectively, in the absence of a negative context. The results did not support the second hypothesis, in that there was no significant difference in the number of negative character attributions made towards the fat character, compared with the healthy weight character, in the negative story end condition. In adapting the methodological approach to eliciting young children’s views and opinions of a fat character in a story completion task the evidence would suggest that obesity stigma is not a primary differentiating factor between a healthy weight and fat character, as suggested in the obesity literature.

Item Type: Thesis (D.Clin.Psychol)
Keywords: obesity, obese, fat, fatness, overweight, chubby, thinness, children, young, very young, preschool, primary school, perceptions, attitudes, stereotype, stigma, difference, negative, positive.
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)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.715052
Depositing User: Dr Louise Harrold
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17492

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