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Keywords:

  • child;
  • intervention;
  • obesity;
  • parenting;
  • paediatric;
  • primary care

Abstract

Background  The primary care setting offers the opportunity to reach children and parents to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours, and improve weight status among children.

Objective  Test the feasibility of Helping HAND (Healthy Activity and Nutrition Directions), an obesity intervention for 5- to 8-year-old children in primary care clinics.

Methods  A randomized controlled pilot study of Helping HAND, a 6-month intervention, targeted children with body mass index 85–99%tile and their parents. Intervention group attended monthly sessions and self-selected child behaviours and parenting practices to change. Control group received regular paediatric care and was wait-listed for Helping HAND. Session completion, participant satisfaction, child anthropometrics, dietary intake, physical activity, TV viewing and behaviour-specific parenting practices were measured pre and post intervention.

Results  Forty parent–child dyads enrolled: 82.5% were Hispanic, 80% had a girl and 65% reported income ≤$30 000/year. There was 20% attrition from Helping HAND (attended <4/6 sessions). Families self-selected 4.35 (SD 1.75) behaviours to target during the 6-month programme and each of the seven behaviours was selected by 45–80% of the families. There were no between group differences in the child's body mass index z-score, dietary intake or physical activity post intervention. Intervention group viewed 14.9 (SE 2.3) h/week of TV post intervention versus control group 23.3 (SE 2.4) h/week (P < 0.05).

Conclusion  Helping HAND is feasible, due to low attrition, good programme attendance, and clinically relevant improvements in some child and parenting behaviours.