Australian children's discourses of health, nutrition and fatness

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Talking to children about their health-related understandings and experiences can provide valuable information for public health practitioners who seek to improve children's dietary behaviours. To date, however, research on children's food consumption has generally prioritized the views of parents and caregivers, rather than children themselves. This paper reports results from a qualitative study that explored preadolescent children's attitudes and perceptions towards health and nutrition. 38 children aged 11–12 years, across three state government schools, took part in an individual interview or group interview. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis techniques. Our results indicate that children inextricably linked the concept of health to diet and physical activity. They pondered the connection between different types of foods and physical implications for the body, emphasising nutrition and physical activity as a resource for preventing the onset of chronic disease and specifically the state of ‘fatness’. Children collectively overemphasised the correlation between body size and health, and expressed that people should take responsibility for healthy choices to prevent fatness. In their discussions, they referred to aesthetic elements of the body and negative consequences of obesity. Overall, we argue that children's discourses of health and nutrition are potentially problematic. Results suggest that it is important to reshape these ideas to encourage children to develop more positive relationships with food and physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationAppetite
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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