Meaning of food in childhood obesity: an exploratory study in a chinese family context

Soc Work Health Care. 2010;49(4):362-77. doi: 10.1080/00981380903212149.


This study aimed to examine the relational meaning of food, based on the results of a qualitative study of eight obese children (six male and two female) and their families in a Chinese society in Hong Kong. The children range in age from 7 to 13. Findings reveal the important bonding function of food in family relationships. Two clinical themes were identified from the data: (1) food bonding nurturer and obese child; (2) eating and the bonding relationship with extended family. Putting a child on a diet was found to disrupt the bonding between the nurturers and the obese child. Power struggles over the loyalty of the child in food provision were also observed. Implications for practice are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • China / ethnology
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Family Relations*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Qualitative Research