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Using narrative messages to improve parents' experience of learning that a child has overweight

02 October 2020
24 min read
Volume 1 · Issue 5

Abstract

Background:

Providing feedback to parents that their child has overweight often elicits negative reactance.

Aims:

To investigate the acceptability and feasibility of providing theoretically-informed narrative messages to reduce negative reactance, alongside the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) feedback informing parents when their child has overweight.

Methods:

A mixed-methods design: interviews with parents of primary school-aged children explored responses to the narratives; a pilot randomised trial examined the feasibility, acceptability and promise of enclosing narratives with NCMP feedback.

Findings:

Interview participants found the narratives acceptable and indicated they could help lessen negative reactance. Pilot study data suggested 65% of parents could identify with the characters, with evidence of elaboration (applying the story to one's own situation) evident in 47% of those reading the accounts.

Although the journal's standard house style is to use the word ‘overweight’ as an adjective to avoid confusing it with a condition, considering the theme of the article and in line with the authors' wishes to try and reduce weight bias, overweight will be used as a noun in this article.

Childhood overweight and obesity are a public health concern in many countries, with prevalence rates among school-aged children of approximately 25% in European countries and 30% in North America (Wang and Lim, 2012). These high rates are of concern as having overweight or obesity as a child is a strong predictor of having overweight/obesity in adulthood, which in turn puts people at higher risk of non-communicable diseases (such as type 2 diabetes) and social disadvantage from the stigma associated with overweight (Herman et al, 2009; Reilly and Kelly, 2010).

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