Washington, Sep 26 (ANI): Teenagers' social class determines their attitudes to diet and weight, according to new research
This is the first study to show how everyday practices and perceptions of different social classes contribute to variation in the diet, weight, and health of teenagers.
"It is evident that children are moulded according to their parents' expectations about behaviour," said Dr. Wendy Wills, of the University of Hertfordshire, who led the research.
The study revealed the ideals and beliefs of both family life and parenting by looking at the diet, weight and health of middle class teenagers, their parents and comparing them with an earlier study of working class families.
Middle class families look towards their children's future, expecting young teenagers' tastes to develop, and have a good body shape to actively participate in adult life.
Parents expressed concern that overweight children would face poor health in later life.
They also felt that being overweight would affect the children's self-esteem and ability to take part in life's opportunities.
In working class families, concern for the future is dominated by increased pressing concerns about everyday life.
"In the context of risk and insecurity for working class families, the ideal body shape has little value," said Wills.
Although working class families express the desire to improve the diet and lifestyle of their children, they sometimes lack the social and cultural abilities as well as money to make such changes happen.
In addition, the independence of teenagers to make their own food choices and take responsibility for their health is seen as an important sign of being working class.
However, this is in complete contrast with middle class families where parents supervise and control young teenagers' food choices on a daily basis.
The findings of the study have proved important for understanding why inequalities in diet, health and weight continue to persist.
NHS Health Scotland have used to them to help Health Boards implement child healthy weight initiatives and the Department of Health's new Healthy Living social marketing initiative also uses the project's research. (ANI)