PARENTS, PRACTITIONERS, AND PUBLIC HEALTH FOR A HEALTHY FAMILY ENVIRONMENT: A PILOT EVALUATION TO PROMOTE HEALTHY WEIGHT IN CHILDREN
Galaviz Arredondo, Karla Ivette
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Given that childhood obesity has become a public health concern, the development and implementation of effective interventions addressing this issue are needed. Research suggests that the use of a parent-only approach is an effective way to improve the home and family environment to promote healthy weight in children. Moreover, by improving parents’ physical activity and eating behaviours children’s behaviours may also be improved. Primary care interventions have been shown to be effective for enhancing physical activity in adults, especially when using physical activity prescriptions and referrals to community programs. No studies have combined these two interventions to explore the possibility of an added-value effect relative to the promotion of a healthy family environment conducive to healthy weight in children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a combined primary care-parent-only intervention with a primary care intervention alone for improving the home and family environment and mothers’ physical activity behaviours relevant to the promotion of healthy weight in children. Female patients (N = 35) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Prescription Plus (PP), Prescription Only (PO) and Usual Care (UC). The PP group received a physical activity prescription plus a referral to a parent-only intervention, the PO group received just the prescription, and the UC group, regular health care. Outcome variables were physical activity, the obesogenic home environment, mother’s confidence for making obesity related changes, exercise/physical activity self-efficacy and outcome expectations, and self-regulation and perceived competence for exercise. All the measures were self-reported and were assessed before and eight weeks after the intervention. A 2 x 3 mixed analysis of variance showed no significant group differences at post-intervention. Only a significant time * intervention interaction was observed (p = .03), where the PP group achieved the largest effect (partial ŋ² = .200) in the obesogenic home environment score after receiving the intervention. These findings suggest that the combined primary care-parent-only intervention was effective for improving the home environment and provide preliminary insight into the effectiveness of such an intervention for influencing healthy weight in children.