Obesity in pre-school children: Issues and challenges for community based child health nurses

Anne McKey
Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, Wellington, New Zealand

Annette Huntington
Associate Professor in Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

PP: 145 - 151

Abstract

Childhood obesity is becoming a topical issue in both the health literature and the popular media and increasingly child health nurses are observing preschool children who appear to be disproportionately heavy for their height when plotted on standardized growth charts.

In this paper literature related to childhood obesity in New Zealand and internationally is explored to identify current issues, and the implications of these issues for nurses in community based child health practice are discussed. Themes that emerged from the literature relate to the measurement of obesity, links between childhood and adult obesity and issues for families. A theme in the literature around maternal perception was of particular interest. Studies that investigated maternal perceptions of childhood obesity found that mothers identified their child as being overweight or obese only when it imposed limitations on physical activity or when the children were teased rather than by referring to individual growth graphs.

The implications for nursing in the area of child health practice is discussed as nurses working in this area need an understanding of the complex and often emotive issues surrounding childhood obesity and an awareness of the reality of people's lives when devising health promotion strategies.

Keywords

child health; early childhood obesity; body mass index; maternal perceptions; media representations


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