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Experiences and perspectives of children attending a weight loss camp in China: a qualitative study

Li, X; Zhou, X; Hesketh, T; (2016) Experiences and perspectives of children attending a weight loss camp in China: a qualitative study. Child: Care, Health and Development , 42 (5) pp. 644-651. 10.1111/cch.12353. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Modernisation, urbanisation and the globalisation of food markets have exposed Chinese children to an obesogenic environment. With the dramatic increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese children, there are now over 2000 weight loss camps for children. The aim of this study was to investigate how one typical weight loss camp operates and to explore the experiences and perceptions of children attending the camp. METHODS: This study utilised ethnographic techniques and semi-structured interviews with children attending a 28-day summer weight loss camp in Hangzhou, China. All children attending at the time of the study were included. Field notes were taken, and interviews with children were recorded, transcribed and analysed into themes. RESULTS: Nine boys and 10 girls aged 7-18 years with a body mass index ranging from 21 to 37 kg/m(2) were interviewed. The weight loss programme combined dietary restriction (<350 calories/meal) and a daily schedule of 8 h of exercise in outdoor temperatures of around 40 °C. Field observation and interviews showed that the regime was distressing for all the children who suffered hunger and exhaustion leading to crying, squabbling, fighting and desperate phone calls to parents. All felt their weight loss could not be sustained. CONCLUSIONS: The extreme conditions and total absence of health and nutrition education at the camp were of great concern. Parents should be aware of the potential dangers and long-term ineffectiveness of such interventions. At the very least, these camps must be subject to regulation.

Type: Article
Title: Experiences and perspectives of children attending a weight loss camp in China: a qualitative study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/cch.12353
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cch.12353
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [FULL CITE], which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cch.12353. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Keywords: China, behaviour, child public health, obesity, perceptions, qualitative research methods
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1498775
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