Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Public Health





PubMed ID



Springer / BMC


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Australian Research Training Program / The University of Western Australia


Saunders, L. A., Jackson, B., Gibson, L. Y., Doust, J., Dimmock, J. A., Davis, E. A., . . . Budden, T. (2023). It’s been a lifelong thing for me’: Parents’ experiences of facilitating a healthy lifestyle for their children with severe obesity. BMC Public Health, 23, article 1176.


Objective: For parents and guardians, assisting children/adolescents with severe obesity to lose weight is often a key objective but a complex and difficult challenge. Our aim in this study was to explore parents’ (and guardians’) perspectives on the challenges they have faced in assisting their children/adolescents with severe obesity to lead a healthy lifestyle. Methods: Thirteen parents/guardians were interviewed from a pool of families who had been referred but did not engage between 2016 and 2018 (N = 103), with the Perth Children’s Hospital Healthy Weight Service, a clinical obesity program for children/adolescents (parent age M = 43.2 years, children age M = 10.3 years). Using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, we identified 3 broad themes. Results: Parental weight-related factors reflected parents’ own lifelong obesity narrative and its effect on their own and their families’ ability to live a healthy lifestyle. Perceived inevitability of obesity in their child reflected parents’ feelings that the obesity weight status of their children/adolescent was a persistent and overwhelming problem that felt ‘out of control’. Lastly, parents reported challenges getting medical help stemming from co-morbid medical diagnosis in their child/adolescent, and difficulties with medical professionals. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that parents face challenges in supporting healthy lifestyle for children/adolescents with severe obesity due to parents own internal weight biases and their negative experiences within the healthcare system when seeking help.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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