Children’s perspectives and experiences of health, diet, physical activity and weight in an urban, multi-ethnic UK population: a qualitative study

Marie Murphy, Felicity Boardman, Wendy Robertson, Rebecca Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
99 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Children from Black and South Asian ethnic groups are at risk for childhood obesity in the United Kingdom. To inform local action for childhood obesity prevention, it is crucial to explore the basis of ethnic disparities and consider the perspectives of children. This study aimed to understand cultural and contextual factors influencing childhood obesity in an ethnically diverse population using child-centred methodology. Methods: ‘Draw, write and tell’ interviews were held with children aged 9–10 years in Coventry, an urban, multi-ethnic city in the United Kingdom. Data were analysed thematically using framework analysis. Results: Twenty-six children participated (85% from Black or minority ethnic groups). Children's perspectives revealed universal themes around health, diet, physical activity and weight and highlighted issues specific to ethnic groups and those living in deprived areas. An underlying feature was weight-based stigmatization and group stereotyping, and an emphasis on internal factors as the cause of obesity. Children described some experiences of social disadvantage but did not regard these as a barrier to being physically active. Children identified cultural or religious practices or experiences of migration that influenced diet and physical activity. Conclusions: These findings allow a broad range of children's perspectives to inform future intervention design. In addition, the study was able to identify the many similarities and small amount of diversity in children's perspectives across ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number5
Early online date15 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC WM), now recommissioned as NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands.


  • obesity
  • ethnicity
  • child public health
  • qualitative
  • eating
  • health beliefs
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Children’s perspectives and experiences of health, diet, physical activity and weight in an urban, multi-ethnic UK population: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this