Educators’ experiences and perspectives of child weight discussions with parents in primary school settings

Coupe, Nia and Peters, Sarah and Ayres, Matilda and Clabon, Katie and Reilly, Alexandra and Chisholm, Anna (2022) Educators’ experiences and perspectives of child weight discussions with parents in primary school settings. BMC Public Health, 22 (1). ISSN 1471-2458

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Abstract: Background: The role of schools in addressing rising childhood obesity levels has been acknowledged, and numerous diet- and physical activity-related interventions exist. Aside from formal interventions, opportunistic parent-educator conversations about child weight can arise, particularly in primary school settings, yet little is known about how useful these are. This study aimed to understand the utility of child weight related conversations with parents through exploring educators’ experiences and perspectives. Methods: This qualitative study consisted of semi-structured interviews conducted with primary school teaching staff in the United Kingdom (N = 23), recruited through purposive and subsequent snowball sampling. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Participants identified opportunities and need for child weight discussions in schools. However, conversations were prevented by the indirect and sensitive nature of conversations, and educators’ professional identity beliefs. Using pre-existing face-to-face opportunities, good parent-teacher relationships and holistic approaches to child health and wellbeing were reported as important in optimising these conversations. Conclusions: Whilst educator-parent child weight discussions are necessary, discussions are highly challenging, with contradictory views on responsibility sometimes resulting in avoidance. Educators’ roles should be clarified, and communication training tailored to increase teacher confidence and skills. Current social distancing will likely reduce opportunistic encounters, highlighting a need to further improve communication routes.

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Journal Article
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BMC Public Health
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25 Apr 2022 11:05
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 04:40