Human developmental stages across the life course

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Physical development

Growth during this stage slows down considerably. Children grow about 5–8 cm each year between the ages of six to eleven and approximately double their weight during that stage. Girls retain more fatty tissue than boys, a characteristic that stays throughout adulthood (Papalia et al., 2008:333). This is the stage when boys can become overweight. Concerns with body image begin to be important early in middle childhood and may develop as eating disorders in adolescence. Overweight can hamper both physical and social functioning (Papalia et al., 2008:340). This stage can also be seen as typical of early adolescence and is characterised by many changes like the biological transformation associated with puberty, and the educational transition from elementary school to secondary school. The biological changes associated with transition of early adolescence include a growth spurt and the development of primary and secondary sex characteristics. Early maturation (which should not be confused with overweight) seems to be an advantage for boys enhancing their participation in sport and social standing at school (Eccles, Wigfield & Byrnes, 2003).

Cognitive development

Children go into a new stage of cognitive development during early primary school years as they now enter Piaget‟s theoretical concrete operational stage. During this stage they can perform tasks at a much higher level than they could in the preoperational stage. They can understand spatial relationships; they have the ability to categorise; children start using mental operations to solve conservation problems; and they start to reason. For Piaget (1964) the most critical operation is reversibility; the understanding that both physical actions and mental operations may be reversed.
Concrete operational thinking is much more powerful than pre-operational thinking. According to him, the limitations of pre-operational thinking gradually diminish as youngsters have experience with friends and siblings more often. Children can perform many tasks at a much higher level than in the pre-occupational stage. They learn that happenings can be interpreted in more than one way. They realise that problems have many facets and that appearance can be misleading (Papalia et al.,2008:351-352). Piaget (1964) maintains that the shift from pre-operational thinking to concrete thinking of older children depends on interaction with others.
Almost all theories of development point to age six as the time when children actually start reasoning in the common sense meaning of the word. Formal schooling starts at this age. Children develop conceptual skills during this transition period which are then refined and consolidated throughout the middle-childhood years (Eccles, Wigfield & Byrnes, 2003). At this stage they can start learning healthy eating.

Psychosocial development

During middle childhood children develop a much more refined self-concept. Judgements about the self become more realistic and balanced. It includes external characteristics as well as internal characteristics such as psychological traits andsocial aspects (Papalia et al., 2008:385). Feelings of competence and personal esteem are of central importance for a child‟s well-being. The shift in the way they describe their selves is due to social comparisons. They judge their appearance, their abilities and behaviour in comparison with others with whom they are in interaction. They become better able to retrieve information and use it to solve problems and to cope with the situations. Cognitive abilities heighten children‟s ability to reflect on their own successes (Eccles, 1999). The feedback they receive from others helps them to create an ideal self and a real self. Although peers become increasingly important for feedback, parents are still, and even more so, influential in their selfdefinition (Eccles, 1999).
The central issue in middle childhood is, according to Erikson (1968), industry versus inferiority. Children need to learn skills to give them competence that contributes to self-worth. Parents play an important role in a child‟s beliefs about their competence. During this stage children develop different judgements about academic and sport skills, physical appearance, friendships and their relationship with their parents. Separate self-esteems do not add up to a general self-esteem. It all depends on how much a child values a specific contributor (Eccles, 1999; Papalia et al., 2008:385). Children enter the middle-childhood years very optimistic about their ability to master a wide array of tasks. Their self-concept in terms of abilities and their expectations for success tend to decline over the elementary school years due to more failure feedback and better reflections on their own performance (Eccles, 1999).

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Chapter 1 The study in perspective 
1.1 BACKGROUND
1.2 RATIONALE FOR THIS STUDY AND ITS PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 AIM OF THE STUDY
1.4 RESEARCH APPROACH
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.7 LAYOUT OF THE THESIS
1.8 ADDITIONAL NOTES
Chapter 2 The development of obesity 
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 OBESITY: A COMPLEX DISORDER
2.2.1 Meso-level
2.2.1.1 Food environment
2.2.1.2 Commercial messages
2.2.2 Genetic and biological (“under water”) levels
2.2.4 Embodiment
2.2.4.1 Conception and early exposure
2.2.4.2 Factors in childhood and adolescence
2.2.4.3 Energy input
2.2.4.4 Energy expenditure
2.2.4.5 Human eating behaviour .
2.2.4.6 Body weight chang
2.3 CONCLUDING REMARKS
Chapter 3 The choice of a perspective
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM
3.2.1 Assumptions of the Symbolic Interactionis
3.2.2 The development of the self
3.2.2.1 The experience of the physical self
3.2.2.2 Experience of the inner self
3.3 LIFE COURSE PERSPECTIVE
3.3.1 Basic assumptions of the life course perspective
3.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS
Chapter 4  Human developmental stages across the life course
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 EARLY CHILDHOOD
4.2.1 Physical development
4.2.2 Cognitive development
4.2.3 Psychosocial development
4.3 MIDDLE CHILDHOOD
4.3.1 Physical development
4.3.2 Cognitive development
4.3.3 Psychosocial development
4.4 ADOLESCENCE
4.4.1 Physical development
4.4.2 Cognitive development
4.4.3 Psychosocial developmen
4.5 ADULTHOOD
4.5.1 Physical development
4.5.2 Cognitive development
4.5.3 Psychosocial development
4.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS
Chapter 5  Research methodology
Chapter 6  Findings, discussion and interpretation
Chapter 7  Conclusion, evaluation and recommendations

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A qualitative investigation into life course stages and transitions that can be associated with a high risk of excessive weight gain in men

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