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“I Kinda Look Unhealthy, but I’m Not Unhealthy” – Exploring Rural Children’s Perspectives on Health, Well-being, and Nutrition

Underserved and Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Linkages with Health and Health Care Differentials

ISBN: 978-1-83867-055-9, eISBN: 978-1-83867-054-2

ISSN: 0275-4959

Publication date: 30 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore rural children’s own perspectives on health, well-being, and nutrition to better understand how they approach, navigate, and make sense of these topics.

Methodology/Approach

This study uses a qualitative ethnographic research design theoretically informed by the “new” Sociology of Childhood and methodologically informed by constructivist grounded theory. This ongoing study with fifth-grade students in an elementary school in a small rural school district in central Illinois consists of ethnographic observations conducted at the school, in-depth interviews with students, and participatory tools that seek to involve students more fully in the process of data collection.

Findings

Preliminary findings of this pilot study suggest that many aspects often discussed in the context of childhood obesity, especially in rural settings, including knowledge or education about healthy eating, increasing physical activity levels, or access to healthy foods, are complex and multifaceted and do not easily lend themselves to standard interventions. Findings also indicate that children’s ideas about healthy eating deviate from their own eating practices.

Research Limitations/Implications

Conceptualized as a grounded theory study, the research is not intended to be generalizable or reproducible. Instead, the study seeks to develop hypotheses directly from the field and study participants’ views and voices. These perspectives will inform a more in-depth study of childhood obesity in rural settings planned for 2019.

Originality/Value of Paper

Findings from this pilot study will inform innovative, informed interventions that are guided by children’s own experiences and perspectives. Study findings will also be of benefit to practicing pediatricians and other child health professionals as they understand how to better think about and address challenges of health and weight management of patients and their families.

Keywords

Citation

Scheer, A. (2019), "“I Kinda Look Unhealthy, but I’m Not Unhealthy” – Exploring Rural Children’s Perspectives on Health, Well-being, and Nutrition", Underserved and Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Linkages with Health and Health Care Differentials (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 137-162. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0275-495920190000037012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited