Healthy weight maintenance strategy in early childhood: the views of Black African migrant parents and health visitors




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Peer reviewed



In Europe and the US, childhood obesity is found to be higher in migrant children from Black African communities and other visible minority ethnic groups. However, very little is known about the factors that contribute to the significant rates of obesity in these groups.

The material for this paper is drawn from a community-based qualitative study that examined the socio-cultural, familial, and environmental factors that either facilitate or hinder healthy weight in Black African children during early childhood. The participants for the study were Black African parents (n=30) and health visitors(n=32), residing and working in the East Midlands, UK. The participants were purposively selected according to an inclusion/exclusion criterion and invited to participate in seven focus groups (FG-7) conducted for parents (FG-4) and health visitors (FG-3) at a time and place convenient to the participants, between March and June 2018.

The focus groups examined a number of issues, including the participants’ views on the barriers and facilitators to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes within the data. Although participants were knowledgeable about the need for a healthy weight in early childhood, the parents discussed how immigration status and experiences of discrimination had an impact on their children’s diet and wellbeing, also discussing how structural factors influenced the decisions they made regarding healthy weight in early childhood. While the health visitors in general felt they did not have the skills to advise Black African parents about the cultural influences on diet during early childhood, findings highlighted a need for a system-based approach in meeting the nutritional needs of Black African children.

This study concludes by suggesting the need for broad social-environment and economic changes that address factors such as migration status, deprivation, and discrimination, coupled with culturally specific healthy diet messages.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


black African parents, Health Visitors, early-childhood, focus groups, obesity, weight maintenance


Ochieng, B. (2020) Healthy weight maintenance strategy in early childhood: the views of Black African migrant parents and health visitors. Health and Social Care in the Community,


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care