Elementary School Personnel's Perceptions of and Recommendations for Managing Child Obesity: A Naturalistic Study
Dixon, Mary Odum
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This dissertation presents three separate studies investigating elementary school personnel's perceptions of and recommendations for managing child obesity. First, a systematic literature review will be presented with an assessment of the very limited current body of literature related to elementary school personnel's perceptions of child obesity to determine the direction of the second and third studies. The systematic review presents personnel's perspectives of (1) the extent of child obesity, (2) contributing factors of child obesity, (3) solutions for child obesity, and (4) barriers to overcoming child obesity. Second, drawing upon the systematic review, a qualitative investigation of elementary school personnel's perceptions of and recommendations for managing child obesity will be presented. Utilizing an emergent design, data collection comprised one-on-one interviews with 31 elementary school personnel. A thematic analysis was employed on raw data and a socioecological model was utilized to explain emergent themes. Participating school personnel identified the home environment and parental factors as the leading factors contributing to child obesity. Personnel also emphasized child control of dietary and physical activity choices, most notably within the home environment. Third, a qualitative case study examining an elementary physical education (P.E.) teacher's perspectives of the impact of obesity on her obese students' experiences in her classroom will be presented. A narrative framework was employed, utilizing both thematic and structural analyses to examine the narratives elicited during the interview. The thematic analysis illuminated a participation refusal pattern of obese students within this P.E. teacher's classroom. The structural analysis highlighted the participating P.E. teacher's customized intervention for her obese students' participation refusals. The combination of thematic and structural methodologies resulted in a preliminary model of the behavioral impact of obesity in this P.E. classroom, which provided a more holistic view than either method alone. Prior to this study, just seven studies had investigated elementary school personnel's perceptions of and recommendations for managing child obesity; only three of which were published in the past decade. Thus, this study is both timely and desperately needed. The valuable insights gained from participating elementary school personnel in this study provide a justification for their inclusion in future studies addressing child obesity.