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How Parents Experience Their Child's Excess Weight: Implications for Weight Management Programs and Mental Health Practitioners

2009, MA, Kent State University, College of Education, Health, and Human Services / Department of Adult, Counseling, Health and Vocational Education.

Pediatric weight management programs have been criticized for not addressing the individual needs and barriers that families face during weight management. Given that the success of such programs depends largely on the parents’ capacity to support their child’s weight management, perhaps treatment effectiveness could be improved by learning how parents experience their child’s excess weight and by listening to what they believe could help them support their child’s weight management. Additionally, the lack of focus on the emotional aspects of pediatric weight management suggests that families may benefit from the addition of mental health services to weight management programs.

The purpose of this study was thus to learn how parents of overweight and obese children conceptualize and experience their child’s excess weight, and to explore whether these parents think mental health professionals could contribute to pediatric weight management programs. This was accomplished by conducting open-ended interviews with ten parents of families enrolled in a nutrition and exercise education program for overweight children in Kent, Ohio, USA. Interview responses were analyzed from a phenomenological research approach.


Overall, the results suggested that parents feel they need help to overcome the many challenges they face during their child’s weight management. The results also demonstrated that parents agree with the inclusion of mental health assistance in weight management programs to help families cope with excess weight and address an aspect of weight management that is evidently given less attention than it deserves. Perhaps, taking the parents’ experience into consideration would help pediatric weight management programs engage families in treatment, improve treatment effectiveness, and lower drop-out rates by addressing parents’ weight management concerns appropriately and increasing confidence in their weight-related parenting skills.


Jason McGlothlin, PhD (Committee Co-Chair)
Martin Jencius, PhD (Committee Co-Chair)
Donna Bernert, PhD (Committee Member)
178 p.

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Beauchemin, A. (2009). How Parents Experience Their Child's Excess Weight: Implications for Weight Management Programs and Mental Health Practitioners. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Beauchemin, Antoine. "How Parents Experience Their Child's Excess Weight: Implications for Weight Management Programs and Mental Health Practitioners." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2009. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 21 Apr 2015.

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Beauchemin, Antoine "How Parents Experience Their Child's Excess Weight: Implications for Weight Management Programs and Mental Health Practitioners." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2009. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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