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Feeding young children : the parents' dilemma


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McCartney, DJ 2004 , 'Feeding young children : the parents' dilemma', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There have been concerns expressed by health authorities, the media, parents and
politicians that one in four Australian children are now overweight or obese and this
could cause both short and long-term health problems. The causes of childhood
obesity have been identified as poor diet and insufficient exercise. Australia has an
affordable and healthy food supply and parents can readily access nutritional
information, so why do parents allow their children to eat a diet that is unhealthy?
Food, eating and family relationships are complex areas encompassing many social
and cultural issues. This thesis looks at feeding young children from the parents'
perspective and examines why contemporary parents face dilemmas about feeding
their children. It uses data from nine focus groups in a variety of rural and urban
locations in Tasmania.
This study shows that parents find feeding young children confusing, frustrating
and challenging. They cannot trust experts who provide impractical, often
conflicting advice, but also they cannot rely on tradition, as so much has changed.
Children are targeted as consumers which creates demands for "junk" foods but
parents are responsible for their children's health and need to feed them the "right"
foods while respecting their choices. Because parents have limited time, they need
to use convenience foods but they have concerns about their nutritional value.
There are complex processes of negotiation, compromise and coercion exerted on a
daily basis by both parents and young children to ensure incorporation of their food
preferences in the family's diet. These parental dilemmas about feeding young children are socially constructed and
as such, will not be resolved simply by providing more expert knowledge that
parents find confusing and impractical. Trying to understand the considerable
societal pressures and conflicting discourses that parents are subjected to around
feeding young children, not only has the potential to influence the way that health
professionals and policy makers deal with families but also provides insights into
how everyday activities are affected by social forces.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:McCartney, DJ
Keywords: Obesity in children, Diet, Children, Health education
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2004 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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