To assess the effectiveness of a parent-focused intervention on infants’ obesity-risk behaviors and BMI.
This cluster randomized controlled trial recruited 542 parents and their infants (mean age 3.8 months at baseline) from 62 first-time parent groups. Parents were offered six 2-hour dietitian-delivered sessions over 15 months focusing on parental knowledge, skills, and social support around infant feeding, diet, physical activity, and television viewing. Control group parents received 6 newsletters on nonobesity-focused themes; all parents received usual care from child health nurses. The primary outcomes of interest were child diet (3 × 24-hour diet recalls), child physical activity (accelerometry), and child TV viewing (parent report). Secondary outcomes included BMI z-scores (measured). Data were collected when children were 4, 9, and 20 months of age.
Unadjusted analyses showed that, compared with controls, intervention group children consumed fewer grams of noncore drinks (mean difference = –4.45; 95% confidence interval [CI]: –7.92 to –0.99; P = .01) and were less likely to consume any noncore drinks (odds ratio = 0.48; 95% CI: 0.24 to 0.95; P = .034) midintervention (mean age 9 months). At intervention conclusion (mean age 19.8 months), intervention group children consumed fewer grams of sweet snacks (mean difference = –3.69; 95% CI: –6.41 to –0.96; P = .008) and viewed fewer daily minutes of television (mean difference = –15.97: 95% CI: –25.97 to –5.96; P = .002). There was little statistical evidence of differences in fruit, vegetable, savory snack, or water consumption or in BMI z-scores or physical activity.
This intervention resulted in reductions in sweet snack consumption and television viewing in 20-month-old children.