An exploration of the effectiveness of government policy geared towards the health and well-being of school-aged children: a case study of the North-West of Ireland
The objective o f this study was to evaluate government policies and initiatives that have been implemented to improve the diet and physical activity levels o f primary school-aged children in Ireland This included exploring the perceptions o f parents/ guardians o f their children’s health and lifestyle in the North-West region The research was conducted by using the method o f triangulation which included a literature review, quantitative and qualitative methods o f data collection and analysis The initial stage o f the quantitative research involved conducting a number o f focus group discussions with parents/guardians o f primary school-aged children The insights gamed from the focus group discussions led to the content design o f the questionnaire which was distributed to the parents/guardians o f fifth class pupils in a sample o f primary schools in Counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim The qualitative research was earned out by conducting a number o f interviews with relevant experts m the areas o f health, health promotion, education and policy-making The findings reveal that the majority o f parents/guardians are not aware o f the extent to which environmental factors - which are linked to the cause o f overweight and obesity- influence the health and well-being o f their children In addition the findings indicate that school-based initiatives can be effective in promoting healthy eating and health education among children within the school setting but they need to be part o f a multi-stranded approach to be effective in the long-term Therefore, there is a need for further government responses to promote the health and well-being o f children within the home and school environments.
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