Middle class parents' and young teenagers' conceptions of diet, weight and health

Mei-Li Roberts, Wendy J. Wills, Kathryn Backett-Milburn, Julia Lawton, Donna MacKinnon

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The role of class in explaining young people’s health-relevant behaviours is both multifaceted and dynamic however not enough is known about the perspectives of young people and their parents and how this fits into a complex social world. For instance, attitudes towards physical activity, diet and overweight/obesity may differ between middle-class teenagers and young teenagers from lower socio-economic backgrounds and also between teenagers with different body shapes.
This paper is based on a qualitative study in Scotland which focuses on higher social class families with young teenagers who are overweight, obese and ‘normal’ weight in order to explore their diet and eating practices, perceptions of body weight/size and health-related activities. This paper reports on findings from in-depth interviews with boys and girls aged 13-14 years and their parents.Our findings suggest that physical activity contributes towards these families’ notions of ‘healthy’ behaviour, with body aesthetics also viewed in relation to diet and exercise. ‘Healthiness’ itself is often taken for granted by these families. Finally, class identities are performed through food, eating and other everyday health relevant behaviours.These findings add to our knowledge about the different ways in which higher social class teenagers and parents view adolescent bodies and also give insight into understanding social class as a driver for weight, health and diet.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008
EventBSA Annual Conference 2008: Social Worlds, Natural Worlds - University of Warwick, Warwick, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Mar 200830 Mar 2008


ConferenceBSA Annual Conference 2008: Social Worlds, Natural Worlds
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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