Children's perspectives and experiences of health, diet, physical activity and weight in an urban, multi-ethnic UK population: A qualitative study

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  • University of Warwick


BACKGROUND: Children from Black and South Asian ethnic groups are at risk for childhood obesity in the United Kingdom. To inform local action for childhood obesity prevention, it is crucial to explore the basis of ethnic disparities and consider the perspectives of children. This study aimed to understand cultural and contextual factors influencing childhood obesity in an ethnically diverse population using child-centred methodology.

METHODS: 'Draw, write and tell' interviews were held with children aged 9-10 years in Coventry, an urban, multi-ethnic city in the United Kingdom. Data were analysed thematically using framework analysis.

RESULTS: Twenty-six children participated (85% from Black or minority ethnic groups). Children's perspectives revealed universal themes around health, diet, physical activity and weight and highlighted issues specific to ethnic groups and those living in deprived areas. An underlying feature was weight-based stigmatization and group stereotyping, and an emphasis on internal factors as the cause of obesity. Children described some experiences of social disadvantage but did not regard these as a barrier to being physically active. Children identified cultural or religious practices or experiences of migration that influenced diet and physical activity.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings allow a broad range of children's perspectives to inform future intervention design. In addition, the study was able to identify the many similarities and small amount of diversity in children's perspectives across ethnic groups.

Bibliographic note

© 2021 The Authors. Child: Care, Health and Development published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Original languageEnglish
JournalChild: Care, Health & Development
Early online date15 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2021


  • eating, health beliefs, obesity, physical activity, qualitative, child public health

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