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 & emotional development.
Main Outcome Measures: Primary: change in baseline BMI z-score at end of programme (3 months) and 9 month follow-up. Attendance, drop-out, parents' perception of 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 4 drop-outs), BMI z-score was reduced by -0.18 (95%CI -0.30 to -0.05) at end of programme and by -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 were used with confidence by the majority of 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.