08 SES 14, School Food, Equity and Social Justice – Reflections From a Health Education Perspective Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 08 SES 16
In government policy and health strategies childhood obesity is constituted as critical health threat. In this context, targeting children and their families as sites of change is a well-developed public health strategy, with primary school-aged children attracting particular attention (Burrows & Wright 2007; Chavda et al 2005; Watne et al 2011). Curriculum materials, health teaching resources and school to family information are produced to enact this strategy. This presentation has two main purposes: the first, to demonstrate how such textual material instructs children and their families on how think and act in relation to their food and activity practices; and the second, drawing on interviews with children and their families, to illustrate how the complexities of family life impact family food practices and their responses to such instructions. The data drawn on for this presentation derives from two studies, one in Australia and one in New Zealand. The first stage of the studies involved the collection of school-based programs, curriculum materials and school resources directed at children and families. These were analysed using a biopedagogical framework to determine i) the ‘truths’ about food constructed in these texts; ii) how these ‘truths’ were constituted; and iii) the effects for how children and families might come to understand themselves and the actions they need to take to become healthier citizens (Wright, 2009). The second stage of the project involved collecting interview and video data from family members in the context of the family home. In Australia, 50 families and in New Zealand 40 families were recruited to cover a diverse range of social and cultural locations. The children were asked to take photographs and make digital movies of whatever family food interactions interest them using an iPad. Interviews were conducted with the child and families about their food knowledge and practices. In this paper the focus will be on how the data from the interviews can be read against the messages about health and food produced in the texts collected for the first stage. The presentation will demonstrate how the complexities of family life, particularly around food and the emotions associated with food and eating, confound the intention of the health texts to persuade to a particular point of view and to incite change. In addition, it will demonstrate the school-based messages about food were fragmented, sometimes contradictory and did not appear to constitute coherent content knowledge about food.
Burrows, L. & Wright, J. (2007) Prescribing practices: Shaping healthy children. The Int J 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. Watne, T., Lobo, A. & Brennan, L. (2011) Children as agents of secondary socialisation for their parents. Young Consumers, 12, 285-294. Wright, J. (2009), Biopower, biopedagogies and the obesity epidemic, in J. Wright & V. Harwood, V.(Eds) The Biopolitics of the Obesity Epidemic: Governing the Body. New York and London: Routledge.
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