Childhood Overweight Bias: Perceptions of Student Nurses within the Nursing Major
Kelber, Sheryl T.
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<p><strong>Purpose:</strong> To explore bias among student nurses within the nursing major regarding overweight children. </p> <p><strong>Setting:</strong> College of Nursing at a large Midwestern University in an urban setting.</p> <p><strong>Methods:</strong> A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted with students (N = 213) at the junior (n = 104) and senior (n = 109) levels of the nursing majors. Participants completed a survey regarding their perceptions of overweight children. </p> <p><strong>Results: </strong>A majority of the participants were female (79.7%), white (80%), and self-identified as ‘normal weight’ (74%). Overall, junior and senior students reported negative perceptions of overweight children (p= 0.119). Significant differences were found between perceptions of overweight children, with senior students identifying the children as “lazy” (χ²= 6.687, p= 0.035), yet junior students reported the children “like food” (χ²= 8.732, p= 0.013). A majority of students reported that overweight children had “no will power” (χ²= 1.162, p = 0.559), or “self-control” (χ²= 0.627, p = 0.731) and “overeat” (χ²= 0.709, p = 0.702). Students generally perceived that overweight children were “slow” (χ²= 1.09, p = 0.580) and “weak” (χ²= 0.550, p = 0.759). A positive perception held by both groups was that overweight children are “shapely” (χ²= 0.983, p= 0.612).</p> <p><strong>Conclusions: </strong>Responses indicated that the majority of students had misconceptions about overweight children.</p> <p><strong>Implications: </strong>Nursing educators could benefit from these findings, as it suggests a need to clarify students’ misperceptions about overweight children. Further studies are encouraged, to examine students’ perception about overweight children from cross cultural perspectives. </p>