'What Does Food Mean to Children?': A Qualitative Study of Primary School Girls' Dieting Awareness and Eating Behaviours

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Conn-Godfrey, Leesa and Kostanski, Marion (2003) 'What Does Food Mean to Children?': A Qualitative Study of Primary School Girls' Dieting Awareness and Eating Behaviours. In: Proceedings of the 38th APS Annual Conference 2 - 5 October 2003, Perth W.A. : development through diversity. Katsikitis, Mary, ed. Australian Psychological Society, Melbourne, Vic., pp. 48-53.


Owing to the frequency and severity of eating disorder psychopathology amongst female adolescents and young adults, research examining the development and prevention of disordered eating has focused predominantly on these populations. However dieting awareness and weight control behavious are evident in children as young as seven, and are particularly apparent in girls. Psycho-educational and early intervention programs subsequently developed for pre-adolescent children have had limited success due to their theoretical grounding in adult and adolescent research and their focus on the 'pathological', rather than an understanding of what constitutes 'normal' versus 'non-normal' eating behaviours for children. In an attempt to redress this lack of understanding, the present study used semi-structured interviews to examine the eating and dieting related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of nineteen girls (aged six to 13 years). The findings from the qualitative analysis indicated that young girls' eating and dieting related beliefs and behaviours are shaped via a complex interplay between developmental and socialisation processes and individual differences. The findings of this study will provide the basis for programs promoting positive health outcomes for young girls.

Item type Book Section
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/6701
ISBN 0909881235
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1111 Nutrition and Dietetics
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords ResPubID6341, preventative programs, nutrition, peer group, food, restricting eating, adolescence, body-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, family
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