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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pilot of "Families for Health": community-based family intervention for obesity

W Robertson, T Friede, J Blissett, M C J Rudolf, M Wallis, S Stewart-Brown
Archives of Disease in Childhood 2008, 93 (11): 921-6
18463121

OBJECTIVE: To develop and evaluate "Families for Health", a new community based family intervention for childhood obesity.

DESIGN: Programme development, pilot study and evaluation using intention-to-treat analysis.

SETTING: Coventry, England.

PARTICIPANTS: 27 overweight or obese children aged 7-13 years (18 girls, 9 boys) and their parents, from 21 families.

INTERVENTION: Families for Health is a 12-week programme with parallel groups for parents and children, addressing parenting, lifestyle change and social and emotional development.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Change in baseline BMI z score at the end of the programme (3 months) and 9-month follow-up. Attendance, drop-out, parents' perception of the programme, child's quality of life and self-esteem, parental mental health, parent-child relationships and lifestyle changes were also measured.

RESULTS: Attendance rate was 62%, with 18 of the 27 (67%) children completing the programme. For the 22 children with follow-up data (including four who dropped out), BMI z score was reduced by -0.18 (95% CI -0.30 to -0.05) at 3 months and -0.21 (-0.35 to -0.07) at 9 months. Statistically significant improvements were observed in children's quality of life and lifestyle (reduced sedentary behaviour, increased steps and reduced exposure to unhealthy foods), child-parent relationships and parents' mental health. Fruit and vegetable consumption, participation in moderate/vigorous exercise and children's self-esteem did not change significantly. Topics on parenting skills, activity and food were rated as helpful and used with confidence by most parents.

CONCLUSIONS: Families for Health is a promising new childhood obesity intervention. Definitive evaluation of its clinical effectiveness by randomised controlled trial is now required.

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