Gail Marchessault

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Publications (9)15.19 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Differences in body image and dieting concerns were assessed in preadolescent boys and girls across the body mass index (BMI) spectrum. The hypothesis was that girls would express more concern with body size, report more dieting, and receive more advice than boys. In this cross-sectional descriptive study, age-appropriate figure drawings, the Children's Eating Attitudes Test (ChEAT), the Restraint Scale, and the Body Esteem Scale were administered to participants in the Study of Asthma, Genes and Environment, Manitoba. Responses were compared between genders and correlated with BMI percentiles. A total of 565 10- and 11-year-old children (321 boys) completed questionnaires. Overall, 39% of participants wanted to be thinner, and no significant gender differences based on weight were found. However, the use of figure drawings indicated that girls desired greater changes in body size (p=0.006). Girls had higher Restraint Scale scores (p=0.003), but no statistically significant differences were found in self-reported dieting, ChEAT, or Body Esteem Scale scores. Approximately 25% of children reported receiving frequent weight-related advice. Girls did not report this more often than did boys. Children in the lowest BMI percentile desired the greatest change in body shape and had the highest Restraint Scale scores. Key gender differences underline the importance of understanding children's attitudes toward body image, weight, and dieting.
    Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 09/2010; 71(3):e34-40. DOI:10.3148/71.3.2010.e34 · 0.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Healthful lifestyle habits established in childhood may continue through adulthood. Such habits may also be effective in preventing or reversing overweight and obesity. However, little is known about children's perceptions of healthful eating and physical activity. Thus, we sought a better understanding of how children perceive healthful eating and physical activity. A purposeful selection was made of Winnipeg, Manitoba, boys (n=23) and girls (n=22) aged 11 to 12 years. The children were interviewed using a semi-structured, in-depth interview guide. Data were analyzed using thematic coding. Although healthful eating was seen as necessary for health, high-fat, high-sugar foods were a source of pleasure and enjoyed during social times. Physical activity was a way of spending time with friends, either through active play or watching sports. Boys viewed screen time and homework as barriers to physical activity, while girls identified no common barriers. Children viewed physical activity as easier than healthful eating, describing the former as "play" and "fun." Knowing how children think about food choices will further our understanding of the disconnect between nutrition knowledge and dietary behaviours. Understanding conflicting pressures that influence children's healthful lifestyles may enhance communication about these topics among parents, educators, and children.
    Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 03/2010; 71(1):19-23. DOI:10.3148/71.1.2010.19 · 0.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite understanding the physiologic effects of childhood asthma, less is known about how children perceive living with asthma. We undertook semistructured, in-depth interviews with 11 boys and 11 girls (all aged 11) drawn from a larger ongoing asthma study of Manitoba children born in 1995. All had asthma, as diagnosed by a pediatric allergist. We sought to further understand how children perceive asthma. Children spoke of feeling different and commonly used words such as "pain" and "hurt." We have categorized children's strategies to normalize their lives as (a) minimizing the health impact, (b) stressing normality, (c) emphasizing abilities, (d) making adaptations in daily living, and, (e) managing symptoms with medications. These findings suggest that aspects of other researchers' work regarding normalization efforts of children with various chronic diseases also apply in a chronic condition that is less obvious.
    Qualitative Health Research 12/2008; 19(1):94-104. DOI:10.1177/1049732308327348 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    Corinne A. Isaak · Gail Marchessault ·
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To explore perspectives on the meaning of health to Aboriginal adults and youth living in a northern Manitoba First Nations community. METHODS: Six focus groups with 29 youth and individual interviews with 10 adults were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed. RESULTS: Adults and older youth used aspects of health depicted in the Medicine Wheel to describe being healthy, but younger youth were not as specific. Both generations spoke about the importance of positive adult role models (emotional health), incorporation of traditional First Nations practices into everyday life (spiritual health), changes in diet and activity (physical health) and the significance of making good choices (mental health). CONCLUSIONS: Participants incorporated aspects of current and traditional lifestyles into their discussion of health. Use of the Medicine Wheel to conceptualize health holistically on the part of both adults and older youth suggest that it may be an effective way to frame health promotion strategies for younger youth. Because it is in harmony with cultural values, such an approach may influence other members of this community to adopt healthful lifestyle practices.
    Canadian Journal of Diabetes 06/2008; 32(2):114-122. DOI:10.1016/S1499-2671(08)22008-3 · 2.00 Impact Factor
  • Talia Hassan · Gail Marchessault · Marian Campbell · Bruce Huhmann ·
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    ABSTRACT: Osteoporosis affects 1.4 million Canadians. Maximizing bone mass by age 30 may reduce this risk. Because calcium intake and body weight are both associated with bone mass, and many Canadian women report that they obtain nutrition information from magazines, we compared the frequency of calcium and body weight messages in Chatelaine and Flare, Canadian magazines for mature versus younger women, respectively. Using keywords, we identified relevant advertisements and articles in all issues of Chatelaine and Flare for 2000 to 2001. Data were analyzed using paired t-tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank sum tests. Chatelaine had more calcium and weight messages per 100 pages than did Flare (significant only for calcium, p <or= 0.0001). Within Chatelaine, there were no significant differences between the frequency of calcium and weight messages; however, almost 90% of Flare's messages focused on weight (p <or= 0.0001), with only eight messages in two years addressing calcium. Conclusions: Magazines with limited calcium and many weight messages inadvertently promote a lifestyle that may increase the risk for osteoporosis. The opportunity exists to provide improved calcium and osteoporosis coverage for women at the prime age for maximizing bone density. Awareness of information gaps may help dietitians strategize in promoting nutrition messages to women.
    Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 07/2007; 68(2):103-6. DOI:10.3148/68.2.2007.103 · 0.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How Canadian dietitians define and use non-dieting and size acceptance approaches (SAAs) in the context of weight management was explored. Fifteen focus groups with 104 dietitians were conducted in seven Canadian cities. Questions were designed to explore participants' understanding and use of non-dieting and SAAs, including counselling goals, techniques, and outcome measures. Sessions were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed using qualitative methods. Participants generally agreed that non-dieting involves promoting healthy lifestyles and avoiding restrictive diets. Participants also agreed that size acceptance means accepting all body shapes and sizes and promoting comfort with one's body. Many dietitians said they use size acceptance only with appropriate clients, most often with those who are lighter or without other health risks. Others said that size acceptance, by definition, is appropriate for everyone. Opinions varied about the appropriateness of teaching portion sizes or using meal plans, and whether weight loss could be a goal of non-dieting and SAAs. Views on the usefulness of non-dieting and size acceptance strategies in weight management counselling were related, at least partially, to the different understanding that dietitians had of these approaches. Terminology needs to be clarified when we speak about non-dieting and SAAs. The varied understanding about these concepts should help dietitians reflect on their own perspectives and practice.
    Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 02/2007; 68(2):67-72. DOI:10.3148/68.2.2007.67 · 0.77 Impact Factor
  • Hannah Tait Neufeld · Gail Marchessault · Heather J. Dean ·

    Canadian Journal of Diabetes 12/2006; 30(4):379-380. DOI:10.1016/S1499-2671(06)04003-2 · 2.00 Impact Factor
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    Hannah Tait Neufeld · Gail Marchessault ·
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To explore cultural idea systems related to maternal diet and diabetes with 2 generations of women in an Aboriginal community. METHODS: Semi-structured and unstructured interviews with a theoretical sample of 14 mothers and 14 grandmothers were audio-recorded, transcribed fully and analyzed thematically. RESULTS: Diabetes was discussed in 20 of 34 interviews, with a focus on causation theories and ways to prevent diabetes. Both groups linked sugar and processed foods with diabetes. More grandmothers talked about decreasing activity patterns and increasing maternal size, while more mothers emphasized the role of stress in causing diabetes during pregnancy. Both groups discussed prevention measures, such as an increased consumption of wild meat and fresh foods. CONCLUSIONS: Both generations expressed concern about diabetes and recommended preventative actions. Indications of cross-generational learning suggest community resources may be helpful in prenatal programming for Aboriginal women.
    Canadian Journal of Diabetes 01/2006; 30(2). DOI:10.1016/S1499-2671(06)02008-9 · 2.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes Canadian dietitians' approaches to counseling adults seeking weight-management advice. Fifteen focus groups were conducted at seven sites across Canada. The participants, most of whom worked in clinical or private practice, discussed their approach to specific weight-management counseling scenarios, including women clients with and without associated risk factors (impaired glucose tolerance, hypertension, family history of cardiovascular disease) and long histories of dieting. Results indicate that participants used a lifestyle approach for weight-management counseling, where the main goal was improved client health through healthful eating and increased physical activity. In contrast to clients' perceived weight loss goals, participants rarely included weight loss as a goal for clients with no additional chronic disease risk factors. For clients with risk factors, some participants advocated moderate weight loss, while others aimed for health at any size. Participants also discussed the importance of clients' psychological well-being, particularly in relation to feelings about food and body image. Individualized approaches to setting goals, gathering information, and giving advice/educating were identified as key counseling strategies. Further research to evaluate the effectiveness of dietitians' weight-management approaches and additional counseling training for dietitians will enhance practitioners' skills and confidence in this area.
    Journal of the American Dietetic Association 09/2005; 105(8):1275-9. DOI:10.1016/j.jada.2005.05.004 · 3.92 Impact Factor