A Qualitative Study on the Physical Activities Concerning Daily Routines of Heavily Overweight Children and their Families from Sports Education and Didactics Point of View – Perspectives for Programs

A third-party funded project financed with resources from Pro*Niedersachsen and the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony
Funding period: October 2012 - June 2014.

In diagnostic examinations in the course of the enrolment at primary schools in Lower Saxony 10 % of the forthcoming pupils are overweight, 4,7% are obese. The current preventive steps to reduce the weight of these children could not achieve effective success.

From the point of view of sports education and didactics the lastingness of the preventive steps has to be interpreted in the following context: In Lower Saxony most preventions start work in institutional surroundings such as sport education at school and sports clubs. However, the family as a setting which is – concerning its specific constellations – the main cause of the overweight as it stabilizes habits in exercises and eating, is mostly not included. In addition the complex problem of obese children tends to be reduced to easy and superficial phrases in the manner of “do more exercises, eat less!”. Therefore conventional prevention programs can lead only to a short-term activation in institutional surroundings but they do not promise long-term success as they do not take into concern the daily, complex and often burdened living conditions of the affected children: As a result old and well-known exercise habits are easily re-established.

The qualitative study pursues the goal to empirically approach the daily routines of overweight children at the age of six to ten on the basis of qualitative interviewing and monitoring procedure. It conceptually follows Grounded Theory and focuses on questions concerning the habits in exercises of the children, the restrictive and stimulating conditions, the social framing and the behavior of the children in the manner of social stigmatization due to their physical appearance.

To start from the idea that the family is the formative framework of physical activities and attitude about the body of pupils in primary school the study includes the domestic environment of the children, their living conditions, sociocultural background, psychosocial factors etc. Moreover the study questions the available resources of the families. According to the empirical results, steps of intervention can be worked out: These should be family related with the aim of activation in exercise.

Prof. Dr. Ina Hunger

Research Assistants / Associates:
Mareke Beninga
Anna-Lena Meyer
Nils Heise
Christiane Adler

Student Assistants:
Christin Viets
Annika Utermöhlen