Practice-based evidence of effectiveness in an integrated nutrition and parenting education intervention for low-income parents

Katherine L Dickin, Tisa F Hill, Jamie S Dollahite
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2014, 114 (6): 945-50
Research identifying associations between parental behaviors and children's food and activity choices and weight suggests that the integration of parenting and nutrition education holds promise for promoting healthful eating and activity in families. However, translational research leading to sustainable interventions lags behind. Development and testing of interventions within actual program contexts is needed to facilitate translation to full-scale implementation. Therefore, the goal of this pilot study was to develop and test an integrated nutrition and parenting education intervention for low-income families within the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in New York State. During a 21-month period, low-income parents of 3- to 11-year-olds were recruited through usual programmatic channels by nutrition program staff to participate in a series of eight workshops delivered to small groups. A validated self-administered questionnaire was used to assess behavior change outcomes among 210 parents who completed the program. Mean scores improved significantly for most behaviors, including adult fruit and vegetable intake; adult and child low-fat dairy and soda intake; and child fast-food intake, activity, and screen time (P<0.001). Many parents reported eating together with children at program entry, leaving little room to improve, but about 20% reported at least a 1-point improvement (on a 5-point scale). The most frequent change was reducing how often children ate fast food and was reported by >50% of parents. Design and testing through practice-based research can facilitate development of interventions that are both feasible and likely to improve eating and activity behaviors among low-income families.

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