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Research Project: Preventing the Development of Childhood Obesity

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Short-term effects of an obesity prevention program among low-income Hispanic families with preschoolers

item HUGHES, SHERYL - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item POWER, THOMAS - Washington State University
item BECK, ASHLEY - Washington State University
item BETZ, DREW - Washington State University
item GOODELL, L - North Carolina State University
item HOPWOOD, VERONICA - Washington State University
item JARAMILLO, J - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item LANIGAN, JANE - Washington State University
item MARTINEZ, ANAMARIA - Washington State University
item MICHELI, NILDA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item OLIVERA, YADIRA - Washington State University
item OVERATH, IRENE - Washington State University
item PARKER, LOUISE - Washington State University
item RAMOS, GUADALUPE - Washington State University
item THOMPSON, YURI - University Of Houston
item JOHNSON, SUSAN - University Of Colorado

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2019
Publication Date: 1/6/2020
Citation: Hughes, S.O., Power, T.G., Beck, A., Betz, D., Goodell, L.S., Hopwood, V., Jaramillo, J.A., Lanigan, J., Martinez, A.D., Micheli, N., Olivera, Y., Overath, I., Parker, L., Ramos, G., Thompson, Y.P., Johnson, S.L. 2020. Short-term effects of an obesity prevention program among low-income Hispanic families with preschoolers. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Interpretive Summary: There are several gaps in the programs targeting obesity prevention. For example, a limited number of programs target parental behaviors associated with childhood obesity and most programs have had moderate success and limited long-term effects. To address these gaps, the Strategies for Effective Eating Development (SEEDS) prevention program was developed. The overarching goal of the program was to teach parents and children to pay attention to children’s internal cues of hunger and fullness. The secondary goal was to teach parents to help their children learn to explore and try novel foods such as fruits and vegetables. In this study, we examined the short-term effects of the program in promoting eating self-regulation and healthy food preferences in low-income Hispanic children. A total of 255 mothers with their preschool child were randomized into two groups (a prevention (136 families) or a control (119 families) group) and participated in the 7 week program which included parent-, child-, and family-based. Parents and children were assessed before the program begun and after it ended. Changes in maternal feeding and knowledge supported the efficacy of the SEEDS prevention program in low-income Hispanic mothers of preschool-aged children. These included feeding behaviors such as getting children to try new foods, using responsive feeding practices including attention to child fullness cues, increasing feeding knowledge and understanding feeding misconceptions, understanding child roles in eating, and achieving feeding efficacy. In the meantime, the feeding behaviors targeted in this prevention program and supported by the short-term results can be used by pediatricians and other health care professionals in their efforts to prevent childhood overweight and obesity. The current study demonstrates the value of a family-focused approach to changing maternal feeding practices.

Technical Abstract: food preferences in low-income Hispanic children. Randomized controlled trial with pretest, posttest, and 6- and 12-month assessments. Head Start and similar early learning institutions in Houston, TX and Pasco, WA. A total of 255 families with preschoolers randomized into prevention (n=136) and control (n=119) groups. Multicomponent family-based prevention program. Fourteen waves lasted 7 weeks each with 8-10 mother-child dyads in each group. Parent assessments included feeding practices, styles, and knowledge. Child assessments included child eating self-regulation, willingness to try new foods, and parent report of child fruit and vegetable preferences. Parent and child heights and weights were measured. Multilevel analyses were employed to consider the nested nature of the data: time points within families within waves. The program had predicted effects on parental feeding practices, styles, and knowledge in the pre- to post-comparisons. Effects on child eating behavior were minimal; only the number of different vegetables tried showed significant pre-post differences. Short-term effects of this prevention program highlight the importance of family-focused feeding approaches to combating child overweight and obesity.