08 SES 14, Schooling Food in Contemporary Times: Critical perspectives
Obesity and particularly childhood obesity are recognised as critical health threats in contemporary Australia, with significant government resources currently directed to improving families’ eating and physical activity practices (Australian Commonwealth Government 2006; NSW Department of Health 2006). As part of this endeavor, children in Australia, like elsewhere, have been targeted as agents of change within the context of the family. The mobilization of children as agents for importing knowledge and education into families is a well-developed public health strategy in a range of contexts, with primary school-aged children having attracted particular attention internationally (Burrows & Wright 2007; Chavda et al 2005; Department of Health 2012; Watne et al 2011). In Australia, the Healthy Weight Report (2008) specifically argues for children and teenagers to become advocates of healthy eating within families. This paper presents findings from a project that has sort to examine the impact of initiatives that attempt to cultivate children as health advocates and the subsequent impact on families. The project deploys a theoretically informed qualitative approach that involves collecting interview and video data from family members in the context of the family home. Fifty families were recruited via a market research firm, researchers’ networks and snowballing, including those that self-identify as struggling with weight or obesity. During the first interview, the research was discussed with families, and the primary school age child within the family was asked to take photographs and make digital movies, of whatever family food interactions interest them using an iPad supplied by the research team. The second family visit involved an interview with the child, drawing on the researchers' analysis of the photographs and videos, and engaging the child in a discussion about what they had photographed and filmed. All of the data from the interviews, field notes and children’s photographs and videos were entered in QSR Nvivo 10. A coding framework was developed which was theoretically motivated by previous literature and the research questions and through several discussions and refinements of the coding framework with the research team. The paper discusses key themes that emerged throughout the data collection including how schools translate food policy initiatives into programs, how families engage with programs that are directed towards regulating family food practices, how children mediate policy imperatives and the effects school food policies and programs have on children and their families.
Australian Commonwealth Government. (2006) Children and Young People and Their Families. Retrieved from http://www.healthyactive.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/ Burrows, L. & Wright, J. (2007) Prescribing practices: Shaping healthy children. The International Journal of Children's Rights, 15(1), 83-98. Chavda, H., Haley, M. & Dunn, C. (2005) Adolescents’ influence on family decision-making. Young Consumers, 6(3), 68–78. Commonwealth of Australia (2003). Healthy Weight 2008: Australia’s Future. Canberra, Australia. Department of Health (2012) Child Health. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phd-child-health-index Lindsay, J. & Maher, J. (2013) Consuming families : buying, making, producing family life in the 21st century. New York: Routledge NSW Department of Health. (2006) Childhood Obesity NSW. Retrieved from http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/obesity/ Watne, T., Lobo, A. & Brennan, L. (2011) Children as agents of secondary socialisation for their parents. Young Consumers, 12, 285-294
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