Engaging parents in child obesity prevention: Support preferences of parents


Dr Luke Wolfenden, Faculty of Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia. Fax: +61 2 4924 6215; email: luke.wolfenden@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au


Helping parents engage in practices that are likely to prevent childhood obesity is a considerable challenge for health professionals, policy makers and researchers. The aim of the study was to determine who is likely to use services designed to help parents prevent overweight and obesity and what types of services they prefer. Two hundred and forty randomly selected parents of children 4–15 years from the Hunter New England region of New South Wales completed a 15 min telephone survey. Most parents would use a service to help them prevent obesity in their children but particularly parents of households from higher socioeconomic areas, female parents, parents of younger children and parents of children who are not consuming sufficient serves of fruits and vegetables, or are less active. Parents preferred personalised mailed print materials (85%), specialist appointments (61%) and emailed information (58%). Parents are interested in using a range of services to support them to encourage their children to eat healthily and be active. Researchers should test the efficacy of promising services.