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Obesity treatment—more than food and exercise: a qualitative study exploring obese adolescents' and their parents' views on the former's obesity

DOI: 10.3402/qhw.v5i2.5073

Keywords: Adolescents , blame , phenomenological–hermeneutic study , obesity , views on obesity

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Abstract:

The aim of this study was to explore obese adolescents' and their parents' views on the former's obesity; especially to gain knowledge about barriers and motivational factors that influence obese adolescents' ability to lose weight. This is a qualitative study involving field observation and semi-structured interviews with obese adolescents and their parents. The analysis takes a phenomenological–hermeneutic approach. Fifteen obese adolescents aged 13–16 years and their parents/grandparents participated in this study (one father, seven mothers, five sets of parents and two sets of grandparents). The results showed that obese adolescents' are aware that they have unhealthy eating habits and they wish they were able to attain to a healthier diet. Although in poor physical shape, obese adolescents perceive their daily level of exercise as moderate. Obese adolescents blame themselves for being obese and blame their parents for an unhealthy diet, and for being unsupportive regarding exercise. Parents blame their obese child of lacking will power to change eating and exercise habits. As a consequence, the homely atmosphere is often characterised by quarrels and negative feelings. The conclusion is that despite obese adolescents' intention of reducing weight, underlying issues interfere with this goal. This is particularly related to quarrels with parents, self-blame and misguided understanding of eating and exercising habits. These matters need to be addressed when treating obesity among adolescents.

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