The goal of this study was to evaluate outcomes of a universal intervention to promote protective feeding practices that commenced in infancy and aimed to prevent childhood obesity.
The NOURISH randomized controlled trial enrolled 698 first-time mothers (mean ± SD age: 30.1 ± 5.3 years) with healthy term infants (51% female) aged 4.3 ± 1.0 months at baseline. Mothers were randomly allocated to self-directed access to usual care or to attend two 6-session interactive group education modules that provided anticipatory guidance on early feeding practices. Outcomes were assessed 6 months after completion of the second information module, 20 months from baseline and when the children were 2 years old. Maternal feeding practices were self-reported by using validated questionnaires and study-developed items. Study-measured child height and weight were used to calculate BMI z scores.
Retention at follow-up was 78%. Mothers in the intervention group reported using responsive feeding more frequently on 6 of 9 subscales and 8 of 8 items (all, P ≤ .03) and overall less controlling feeding practices (P < .001). They also more frequently used feeding practices (3 of 4 items; all, P < .01) likely to enhance food acceptance. No statistically significant differences were noted in anthropometric outcomes (BMI z score: P = .10) nor in prevalence of overweight/obesity (control 17.9% vs intervention 13.8%; P = .23).
Evaluation of NOURISH data at child age 2 years found that anticipatory guidance on complementary feeding, tailored to developmental stage, increased use by first-time mothers of “protective” feeding practices that potentially support the development of healthy eating and growth patterns in young children.