How can we effectively communicate with parents and give children a voice?

The extent to which childhood obesity is a product of unhealthy behaviours at home means that communicating with parents and children is critically important to the success of the Trailblazers and similar projects. Two linked questions were explored at the Assembly: 

  • How can we get more buy-in from parents? 
  • How do we capture children’s voices?  

How do we get parent buy-in? 

Three approaches were identified as being important in achieving parent buy-in in leading a healthy lifestyle and providing a positive role for their children:

Work in a way that avoids the stigma that can be associated with talking about obesity. For example, by shifting the focus from “a weight problem” to a “health opportunity” and avoiding blame narratives

Follow the principles of early intervention as is being done by the Nottinghamshire Trailblazer. The objective is to work with families early on to discourage the adoption of unhealthy behaviours as children grow up. 

Work collaboratively with parents so they can shape the interventions. This encourages an open-minded approach that is more understanding of complex family situations.

Capturing children’s voices 

The learning from work on childhood obesity emphasises the need to fund creative ways of helping children to think about the relationship between what they eat and their health. Possible approaches include: 

  • Creating opportunities for conversations about the implications of what people eat in a way that is sensitive to issues associated with trauma and mental health and the stigma attached to obesity and body image issues. 
  • Developing and delivering interventions with children, including the use of young champions and role models.