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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 86–90 | Cite as

Childhood Obesity

Perceptions Held by the Public in Calgary, Canada
  • Melissa L. PotestioEmail author
  • Lindsay McLaren
  • Ardene Robinson Vollman
  • P. K. Doyle-Baker
Article
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Objective

To investigate the perceptions about causes and prevention of childhood obesity held by the adult public in Calgary, Canada.

Design

Using a cross-sectional survey design, adults were recruited from a shopping mall located in a region of Calgary, Alberta characterized by mixed ethnic and socio-economic residents.

Subjects

264 adults in Calgary, Canada.

Measurements

Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire that involved rating the importance of 25 potential causes of obesity and 13 potential preventive measures, using a four-point Likert scale anchored by “not important” and “very important”. Demographic information including age, sex, educational level, parental status, and self-reported weight and height was also collected.

Results

Principal components analysis of questionnaire items revealed five “cause” factors (‘parental responsibility’, ‘over-consumption and media promotion of unhealthy foods’, ‘misuse/overuse of modern technology’, ‘children’s lack of knowledge and motivation’, ‘physical activity environment’) and two “prevention” factors (‘healthy public/private policy and targeted intervention’, and ‘media campaigns and compulsory physical education’). Tests for group differences revealed that women ranked ‘over-consumption of unhealthy foods and media influence’ and ‘physical activity environment’ as more important causes of childhood obesity than men. Additionally, persons classified as obese ranked ‘misuse/overuse of modern technology’ and ‘healthy public/private policy and targeted intervention’ as more important than those persons classified as under/normal weight.

Conclusion

By providing a snapshot of views held by the public regarding childhood obesity in this large Canadian city, this study offers preliminary guidance about publicly acceptable intervention strategies for use by health promotion researchers and policy-makers.

Key words

Obesity child public opinion 

Résumé

Objectif

Étudier ce que la population adulte de Calgary (Canada) perçoit comme étant les causes de l’obésité de l’enfance et les moyens de la prévenir.

Méthode

Nous avons administré une enquête transversale à des adultes recrutés dans un centre commercial de la région de Calgary, en Alberta, dans un quartier caractérisé par la diversité ethnique et socioéconomique de ses résidents.

Participants

264 adultes de Calgary (Canada).

Mesures

Les participants ont rempli un questionnaire auto-administré où on leur demandait d’évaluer l’importance de 25 causes possibles de l’obésité et de 13 mesures de prévention possibles à l’aide d’une échelle de Likert en quatre points allant de «aucune importance» à «très grande importance». Des données démographiques ont aussi été recueillies (âge, sexe, niveau d’instruction, état parental et poids et taille déclarés par l’intéressé).

Résultats

L’analyse en composantes principales des éléments du questionnaire a mis au jour cinq facteurs «causals» (responsabilité parentale, surconsommation et promotion médiatique des aliments malsains, mauvais usage ou usage excessif de la technologie moderne, manque de connaissances et de motivation des enfants, milieux peu propices à l’activité physique) et deux facteurs de «prévention» (politiques publiques et privées saines et mesures d’intervention ciblées, et campagnes de publicité dans les médias et éducation physique obligatoire). Des tests visant à déceler les différences entre les groupes ont montré que les femmes jugeaient «la surconsommation d’aliments malsains et l’influence des médias» et «les milieux peu propices à l’activité physique» comme des causes plus importantes de l’obésité de l’enfance que les hommes. De plus, pour les répondants obèses, «le mauvais usage ou l’usage excessif de la technologie moderne» et «les politiques publiques et privées saines et les mesures d’intervention ciblées» étaient plus importants que pour les répondants ayant un poids normal ou inférieur à la normale.

Conclusion

Comme elle donne un aperçu de l’opinion publique d’une grande ville canadienne sur le sujet de l’obésité de l’enfance, cette étude peut servir à établir les orientations préliminaires de stratégies d’intervention jugées acceptables par le public à l’usage des chercheurs et des décideurs en promotion de la santé.

Mots clés

obésité enfant opinion publique 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa L. Potestio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsay McLaren
    • 1
  • Ardene Robinson Vollman
    • 2
  • P. K. Doyle-Baker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Sciences and Nursing, Faculty of MedicineCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of KinesiologyCanada

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