Latin American countries have historically had a troubled relationship with nutrition and food supply. For much of its past, hunger and malnutrition were public health issues. In recent years, the region has faced an alarming increase in child obesity. In fact, a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that Latin American countries have some of the highest rates of overweight preschool-aged children. Albar and FocusVision collaborated on a research project to gain a comprehensive understanding of the region’s child obesity problem, including the following issues:
- What are the current and “ideal” diets for children?
- What prevents children from achieving the ideal diet?
- What needs to be done to fight obesity?
Getting a full picture of child obesity required collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. FocusVision’s suite of research tools was uniquely suited for blending various research techniques together. We started by gathering expert testimonials. Using InterVu, an online platform for live, face-to-face interviews, we spoke with pediatricians and healthcare professionals involved in treating children’s weight and nutrition issues. A 20-minute survey via Decipher, FocusVision’s survey software platform, sampled parents for their thoughts, opinions, and emotions regarding their children’s diets and eating habits. We also wanted to get a closer look inside the home and see first-hand how a child eats and what they experience during mealtime. This was done through Revelation, FocusVision’s digital qualitative platform, where, using their smartphones, participants engaged in exercises such as video testimonials, journal writing and photo uploads to bring mealtime experiences to life.
“This was a very challenging and exciting project, and FocusVisionTM was an amazing contributor to our success. InterVu® allowed us to reach a large sample over a vast geographical spread, in a short period of time. Decipher® helped us directly engage respondents and gain many insights about their views. Revelation® provided an opportunity for parents to easily share their journeys, almost in real time, and we gained a deeper understanding of their points of view from those rich discussions.”
It became clear that there is an important gap between the ideal diet and real life. Both parents and health care professionals acknowledged that bad habits and lack of information are the big villains here. Adding to this are “modern times” problems: parents working full time, not having enough time to supervise and prepare meals, guilt around not being present all the time and giving kids anything they want, not establishing boundaries, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. These are the complex factors leading to obesity in all layers of society. Respondents agreed that the best way to overcome childhood obesity is through education and awareness, at home and in schools, and through health care, the government and the media.