Everyday experiences of life, body and well-being in children with overweight

Authors

  • Benita Gunnarsson Mériaux MSc, RN,

    (Doctoral Student)
    1. Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gotherburg, Arvid Wallgrens Backe, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Marie Berg MNSc, MPH, PhD, RN, EM,

    (Associate Professor)
    1. Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gotherburg, Arvid Wallgrens Backe, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Anna-Lena Hellström PhD, RN

    (Associate Professor)
    1. Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gotherburg, Arvid Wallgrens Backe, Göteborg, Sweden
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Mrs Benita Gunnarsson Mériaux, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gotherburg, Arvid Wallgrens Backe, PO Box 457, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.
E-mail: benita.g.meriaux@comhem.se

Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 14–23
Everyday experiences of life, body and well-being in children with overweight

Background and aims:  Childhood overweight is presented as a complex problem to solve. To elaborate efforts required in striving for normal weight in overweight children healthy signs of life from the child’s point of view should be identified and promoted. The aim of the present study is to describe everyday experiences of life, body and well-being in children with overweight.

Method:  A qualitative descriptive design based on lifeworld perspective was used in 16 open-ended interviews with overweight children aged 10–12 years. Child overweight was defined by body mass index (kg/m2) for each age. Drawings and body pictograms were used to supplement the interviews. Text was analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Findings:  The primary finding was the respondents’ search for a sense of community in daily life. The respondents yearned to be part of a community but spent a lot of time alone. Parents and other family members were an important source of community but were not present enough in the respondents’ daily life. The respondents had a sound body image, were concerned about their bodies and were aware of a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, they did not manage to implement this awareness in practice. Unhealthy sleeping, eating and exercise habits along with a sense of victimization were revealed in the interviews. Well-being meant self-esteem, trust and satisfaction and was preserved and improved through exciting relationships and activities. Feeling well was equal to feeling capable, feeling happy and feeling a sense of community.

Discussion and conclusions:  Findings emphasize the problem of loneliness in the children studied. Their healthy signs of life were not promoted in an acceptable way. They spent too much time alone doing sedentary activities with easy access to junk food. Findings indicate they should be provided with company at all meals and during activities on a daily basis.

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