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Family ties: understanding the intergenerational nature of eating and physical activity practices Emma Rawlins MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "Family ties: understanding the intergenerational nature of eating and physical activity practices Emma Rawlins MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Family ties: understanding the intergenerational nature of eating and physical activity practices Emma Rawlins MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow

2 The Obesity “epidemic” New Labour’s ‘enabling’ state “Government can’t be the only one with the responsibility if it’s not the only one with the power. The responsibility must be shared and the individual helped but with an obligation to help themselves” (Blair, 2006: 2).

3 Locating the individual in policy discourse Parents are held responsible for their children’s behaviour Children are also educated in Citizenship which constructs their role as an active citizen and individual This means that children are both independent and dependent simultaneously

4 Intergenerational geographies Familial and extra familial notions of ‘generation’ Transmission of values and practices through generations Adults and children’s lives are intertwined spatially photo:

5 Emotional eating It used to be a private prep school and it was run by nuns and we had to sit and we had to sit in silence and we had to eat everything and it was very, very severe […] It, it was in complete silence for the whole of the meal, very archaic really, um, and you had to eat everything. You were wicked if you, if you, I mean you really were wicked if you didn’t eat, and I remember luckily, thank God! Thank you God for making me eat, like, most foods! I could eat most things but occasionally, there was- broad beans is one, couldn’t eat them, I couldn’t eat them. I used to sit there and I used to think, I just used to feel like I was in hell. It was just horrid thinking ‘How, how am I gonna get out of here without eating them broad beans!’ And, and I remember spending a whole afternoon stood outside in the playground for talking and I wasn’t even a naughty child, I wasn’t naughty at all. And so it was, it was, phew, but that, that was so wrong all their ideas about food there.

6 Intergenerational eating practices Grandmother- Mother relationship So she actually almost, um, [pause] she sort of [sighs] and she’s very damming about other people that are big. And I don’t like that so I, I try and avoid the conversations or the she says all these care home staff goes into her house, you know, they’re all big, overweight women [whispers] “how can they possibly do their job properly?” [normal voice] and very damning and I thought “Mum for all those years of my early life you were a big fat mamma!” You know? [laughs] And I do sometimes I think “Look at him with that disgusting belly” but, you know, everybody has their problems, or their reasons, or the ignorance for why they’re like that and I certainly don’t judge at all and my Mother used to say “oh judgemental” it, and you know, and I know she’s sort of said things to me you know [whispering] “you know you should try…” [normal voice] you know little th-, and I think “oh god, get off now I’m forty one now, I’m nearly forty one”

7 Intergenerational eating practices Daughter to Mother Er, well, it means that like every, I think it’s every Saturday she goes, or every week, um, she goes on the scales, um, well she checks first at home and then she goes on the scales at this place where they and you ha-, you have, you have like a week, you have like one like a week for if you’ve like dropped some pounds or something, like dropped some, and then, and then, um, and then she has, then she has, then she has to go there and see how that she’s done but my mum eated about a whole, a whole pack of chocolate Easter eggs yesterday! So then she’s had none today.

8 Intergenerational eating practices Mother to daughter Amy: Well, well if my mum said all about like healthy enough and if you could get fat then you could get fat cos, cos I used to, I used to eat a lot of chocolate but now I don’t really, well that was when I was like about five years old but when I was six and seven and when I got to eight I ate loads of healthy stuff. I used to be about that fat [gestures a large stomach] Emma: No! Amy: Well not that fat but quite fat, about that much [gestures again] Emma: Why did you change your, like, eating habits? Amy: Because my mum kept saying about like um, you need to lose a bit of weight and you need to eat more healthy stuff and she got me to try loads of stuff and then I bought, I like eating healthy things more

9 Natural sporting talent? Hannah: Football probably comes as naturally to them as anything, my family is a cricketing family so I was quite keen for them to get involved and um, I suppose that started as cricket on the beach didn’t it? So the family, um, and joining the club has been the making of them really hasn’t it? They’ve really enjoyed it Robert: They have yes. They have. And I play golf which is why they really took to the golf side of it Hannah: And we, both Robert and I have played, still do occasionally, squash and tennis and that was a natural thing to get into as to which we belong to a club which we hope that the boys would, will learn to consider it a safe environment for them to be in and somewhere as they get older they can go to with friends and play.

10 A cricketing family

11 A family bond Like my mum’s, my granddad has a video camcorder thing and so when I was two and Aaron was four, but then we’ve got some when I wasn’t in them, um, like we’ve got videos from then and like you see us playing cricket and so, we probably, like, weren’t playing like seriously then but we kind of got in to it. Josh from my point of view I’ve always played a lot of sport um, since I was very young so it’s been a natural progression to do that. I like being outside and being active […] I mean golf and tennis in particular as long as they remain as keen as they are we will probably play more together rather than less. Robert

12 Conclusion Time to consider the non rational in addition to structural and agency driven practices Family and individual practices mediated by family histories and bodily capacities Need to consider both parents, children and even grandparents practices

13 Thanks for listening- any questions? Thanks to the ESRC for funding this research


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