Forskning ved Københavns Universitet - Københavns Universitet


Between Blame and Care: A Sociological Study of the Targeting of Maternal Obesity in the Prevention of Childhood Obesity

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

  • Drude Skov Lauridsen
This thesis investigates mothers’ and fathers’ perspectives on health interventions targeting pregnant women and mothers in Denmark based on weight. Maternal obesity has become the focal point in efforts to prevent childhood obesity. In expert discourses the weight and lifestyle of pregnant women is made a risk factor for the future overweight of their unborn children. Further women labelled obese receive expert advice during pregnancy on how much to gain, eat and exercise to prevent pregnancy complications and childhood obesity. Taking advantage of a mother-child cohort with women with a pre-pregnancy BMI≥30, it was possible to identify a sample of women who had experienced being targeted both in pregnancy and in their child’s early years. The study presented in the thesis then used document analysis and semi-structured interviews with 21 mothers, and joint interviews with 12 mother-and-father pairs to investigate the issues of stigma, maternal needs and maternal responsibility.
In the thesis, the Danish context is investigated in order to understand how obesity discourse entered prenatal care in Denmark and how national prenatal care guidelines and regional birth plans construct a category that reproduces stereotypical assumptions about obesity and about maternal responsibility for children’s future health.
The thesis consists of three empirical papers. The first paper investigates the targeting of women in selective interventions and examines how women feel ambivalent about being targeted and about the idea that pregnancy is a good time to intervene into women’s lifestyle. The second paper examines how the needs of the group of women labelled “severely overweight pregnant women” are accepted, resisted and redefined by women placed in the group. The third article investigates how maternal responsibility is renegotiated in joint parental interviews on maternal risk factors and children’s future health. Overall the thesis contributes to an understanding of what it means to be targeted as a ”risky mom” and the unintended consequences that selective intervention based on weight can have.
ForlagDepartment of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
StatusUdgivet - 2019

ID: 229380121