Background: Childhood obesity is a major public health concern. In the UK, a quarter of children have overweight or obesity at age five years. Children with overweight and obesity are more likely to develop serious health issues such as diabetes later in life. Consequently, there is an urgent need for effective, early obesity prevention and intervention. This study investigated the impact of an eight-week child obesity intervention HENRY (Health Exercise Nutrition for the Really Young) - designed to help parents with preschool children develop the skills and knowledge needed to improve family lifestyle and wellbeing. We were particularly interested in exploring the potential mechanisms by which HENRY may have a positive impact.
Method: Focus groups (n=7, total participants=39) were completed with mothers attending the HENRY programme at one of seven locations across England. They took place within two weeks of programme completion. Follow-up telephone interviews were completed with a subsample of participants (n=10) between 17 and 21 weeks later.
Results: Parents consistently reported enhanced self-efficacy in terms of improved confidence in their ability to encourage healthier behaviours such as eating fruit and increasing physical activity, and improvements to family health behaviours. Many changes were reportedly sustained at follow-up. Data provided insights into the potential mechanisms that created the conditions for the positive changes. Participants described the importance of mutual support, being listened to by facilitators and encouragement to identify their own ideas. Their comments indicated the success of a solution-focused, strength-based, partnership approach to supporting family lifestyle change.
Conclusion: The results of this study contribute to the body of evidence suggesting that HENRY may have a positive impact on parenting and family lifestyle behaviour. Although data were collected in 2011, the findings contribute to an understanding of the components of effective obesity prevention in young children.
12 Sep 2019 - 13 Sep 2019