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SUpporting healthcare Professionals to help Parents address OveRweighT in children (SUPPORT) study

Lead: Prof Kate Jolly (Public Health)

Rapid response research. Commissioned by Public Health England.

Dates: December 2019 - March 2020


With the high prevalence of childhood obesity, primary and community health care professionals (HCPs) are increasingly expected to have conversations with parents about their child’s weight and often report feeling ill-equipped to do so. However, in order to develop effective strategies, we need to identify barriers to having these conversations, as well as identifying insights into potential facilitators to enable such conversations.

Policy Partners:

Public Health England.

Co-Funding Partners:

Public Health England.

Aims and Objectives:

To inform development of effective strategies to facilitate healthy weight conversations with parents of children with overweight explore with General Practitioners (GPs), Primary Care Practice Nurses (PNs) and School Nurses (SNs) their experiences of addressing overweight/obesity in children with parents.


This is a qualitative study exploring the views, perceptions and experiences of GPs, PNs and SNs practising in primary and community care in the United Kingdom. GPs and PNs were recruited using primary care networks and social media to participate in semi-structured interviews. SNs were recruited from a Community NHS Trust to participate in focus groups. Data were analysed through inductive thematic analysis, which primarily allows the data to determine the themes rather than imposing a preconceived thematic structure.

Main Results:

Forty HCPs from the East and West Midlands participated (13 GPs, 7 PNs, and 20 SNs). Barriers to initiating conversations with parents about their child’s weight were: time and capacity for these conversations; fear about parental reaction; lack of access to data on children’s weight; and family, cultural and societal influences. Facilitators included: good communication with parents; availability/use of data on child weight assessment; awareness of cultural influences relating to child weight; access to resources to support families in changing obesity-related behaviours; and information on local childhood obesity care pathways and services.


Strategies that may support healthier weight conversations with parents include providing primary HCPs with: information and resources, including culturally tailored resources; childhood obesity care pathways; defined roles for healthcare professionals; integration of data between the National Child Measurement Programme and primary care; and addressing healthcare professional training needs.

Implications for Implementation:

We will be working with Public Health England to implement the recommendations from the study.

Thu 26 Nov 2020, 16:07 | Tags: Kate Jolly Public Health