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'It's on your conscience all the time': a systematic review of qualitative studies examining views on obesity among young people aged 12-18 years in the UK

Rees, RW; Caird, J; Dickson, K; Vigurs, C; Thomas, J; (2014) 'It's on your conscience all the time': a systematic review of qualitative studies examining views on obesity among young people aged 12-18 years in the UK. BMJ Open , 4 (4) , Article e004404. 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004404. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To explore the perspectives of young people in the UK on obesity, body size, shape and weight. DESIGN: Systematic review of qualitative studies using thematic synthesis. DATA SOURCES: Sensitive searches of 18 electronic databases from 1997 to February 2010 supplemented by grey literature searches. STUDY SELECTION: Studies produced since 1997 using qualitative methods to collect perspectives of people aged 12-18 years in the UK, reporting methods for data collection or analysis. Studies of people with eating disorders and those rated low in reliability and usefulness were excluded. RESULTS: Searches identified 30 studies involving over 1400 young people from a range of contexts. Young people of all sizes placed considerable emphasis on personal responsibility, and on the social, rather than health implications of being overweight. Young people with experience of obesity described severe, unrelenting, size-related abuse and isolation. Regardless of their own size, young people were judgemental of individuals who were overweight, but those with experience of obesity described an environment that contained multiple barriers to weight loss. Only one study asked young people directly what might support them to have a healthy body size. Study findings were configured under three main themes, labelled with quotes from included studies: general perceptions of size and society's responses ('It's on your conscience all the time'); the experiences of young people who were overweight ('If I had the choice I wouldn't be this size') and these larger young people's experiences of trying to loose weight and suggestions for action ('Make sure, even when it's hard, you've got people there'). CONCLUSIONS: The perspectives of young people in the UK, when synthesised across the spectrum of body sizes, paint a picture of a stigmatising and abusive social world. Research and policy need to engage young people actively so as to address the social implications of obesity.

Type: Article
Title: 'It's on your conscience all the time': a systematic review of qualitative studies examining views on obesity among young people aged 12-18 years in the UK
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004404
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004404
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
Keywords: nutrition & dietetics, paediatrics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475951
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