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BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 109, 2022 01 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1634428


BACKGROUND: Educational attainment is a key social determinant of health. Health and education are linked by multiple pathways, many of which are not well understood. One such pathway is the association between being above a healthy weight and lower academic achievement. While various explanations have been put forward to explain this relationship, evidence for causal pathways is sparse and unclear. This study addresses that evidence gap. METHODS: We interviewed 19 adults (late 20s; 14 female, 5 male) and one young person (14 years, male) from the UK in 2019/2020. Participants were recruited from the ALSPAC 1990s birth cohort, sampled to ensure diversity in socio-economic status and educational attainment, and a community-based weight management group for young people. Interviews focused on experiences of being above a healthy weight during secondary school and how this may have affected their learning and achievement. Interviews were face-to-face, digitally recorded, and transcribed verbatim. We analysed the data thematically. RESULTS: We identified key pathways through which higher body weight may negatively impact educational performance and showed how these are linked within a novel theoretical model. Because larger body size is highly stigmatised, participants engaged in different strategies to minimise their exposure to negative attention. Participants sought to increase their social acceptance or become less socially visible (or a combination of both). A minority navigated this successfully; they often had many friends (or the 'right' friends), experienced little or no bullying at school and weight appeared to have little effect on their achievement at school. For most however, the behaviours resulting from these strategies (e.g. disruptive behaviour, truanting, not working hard) or the physical, social or mental impacts of their school experiences (e.g. hungry, tired, self-conscious, depressed) made it difficult to concentrate and/or participate in class, which in turn affected how teachers viewed them. CONCLUSIONS: Action to combat weight stigma, both within schools and in wider society, is urgently required to help address these educational disparities that in turn can impact health in later life.

Weight Prejudice , Achievement , Adolescent , Adult , Educational Status , Female , Humans , Male , Obesity/epidemiology , Schools , Social Stigma
BMJ Open ; 11(10): e051497, 2021 10 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1476604


OBJECTIVES: In spring 2020, the first COVID-19 national lockdown placed unprecedented restrictions on the behaviour and movements of the UK population. Citizens were ordered to 'stay at home', only allowed to leave their houses to buy essential supplies, attend medical appointments or exercise once a day. We explored how lockdown and its subsequent easing changed young children's everyday activities, eating and sleep habits to gain insight into the impact for health and well-being. DESIGN: In-depth qualitative interviews; data analysed using thematic analysis. SETTING: South West and West Midlands of England. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty parents (16 mothers; 4 fathers) of preschool-age children (3-5 years) due to start school in September 2020. Forty per cent of the sample were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds and half lived in the most deprived areas. RESULTS: Children's activity, screen time, eating and sleep routines had been disrupted. Parents reported children ate more snacks, but families also spent more time preparing meals and eating together. Most parents reported a reduction in their children's physical activity and an increase in screen time, which some linked to difficulties in getting their child to sleep. Parents sometimes expressed guilt about changes in activity, screen time and snacking over lockdown. Most felt these changes would be temporary, though others worried about re-establishing healthy routines. CONCLUSIONS: Parents reported that lockdown negatively impacted on preschool children's eating, activity and sleep routines. While some positive changes were identified, many participants described lack of routines, habits and boundaries which may have been detrimental for child health and development. Guidance and support for families during COVID-19 restrictions could be valuable to help maintain healthy activity, eating, screen time and sleeping routines to protect child health and ensure unhealthy habits are not adopted.

COVID-19 , Child, Preschool , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Sleep
BMJ Paediatr Open ; 5(1): e000987, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1143053


Objective: To investigate student, parent/carer and secondary school staff attitudes towards school COVID-19 mitigation measures. Methods: Recruitment used school communication, community organisations and snowball sampling in South West England. Audio recorded online or phone individual/group semi-structured interviews were conducted in July-Septtember 2020 and lasted 30-60 min. Interviews focused on views towards social distancing, hand hygiene and testing. Framework analysis was performed on interview notes/transcripts. Results: Participants were 15 staff, 20 parents and 17 students (11-16 years) from 14 diverse schools. Concerns about COVID-19 risk at school, especially to vulnerable individuals, were outweighed by perceived risks of missed learning. Some staff felt guilt around being a potential 'spreader' by teaching multiple classes. Findings highlighted a wide variety of school COVID-19 mitigation measures being deployed due to ambiguous government guidance. Participants generally saw mitigation measures as an acceptable and pragmatic solution to the perceived impossibility of social distancing in crowded schools, although anticipated challenges changing habitual behaviour. Participants supported school COVID-19 testing but identified the need to consider data security and stigma around COVID-19 diagnosis. Staff were concerned about unintended consequences of risk-reduction strategies on student behaviour, learning and pastoral care, particularly for those with Special Educational Needs or mental health issues who may find the measures especially challenging, and resultant widening inequalities. Conclusion: Families and staff supported COVID-19 mitigation measures in schools and would welcome the roll out school COVID-19 testing. Clear messaging and engendering collective responsibility are important for compliance and success of COVID-19 mitigation measures. However, schools and policy-makers should consider unintended consequences of measures, providing extra support for vulnerable students and those with additional needs, and consider ways to avoid widening educational and health inequalities. Findings demonstrate the acceptability of school COVID-19 infection control measures is likely to be influenced by the balance of risks and benefits to students.

COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Students