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An evaluation of ‘Families for Health’ : a new family-based intervention for the management of childhood obesity

By Wendy Robertson


Objectives - To develop and pilot a community-based family programme,\ud ‘Families for Health’, for intervention with overweight and obese children aged\ud 7-11 years.\ud Intervention – ‘Families for Health’ is a 12-week programme, with parallel\ud groups for parents and children, combining support for parenting, lifestyle\ud change, as well as social & emotional development.\ud Design of the Evaluation – Pilot study using mixed-methods comprising:\ud process evaluation; outcome evaluation involving a ‘before and after’ evaluation\ud and triangulation with interview data; economic evaluation (cost-outcome\ud description); users and providers perspectives.\ud Setting – Leisure Centre, Coventry, England\ud Participants – 27 overweight or obese children aged 7-13 years (18 girls, 9\ud boys) and their parents, from 21 families.\ud Process Evaluation – Two groups were run, and were delivered as planned.\ud Recruitment was difficult, although most effective via the media. Attendance\ud rate was 62%, with 18(67%) children completing the programme.\ud Outcome Evaluation – Primary outcome was change in the BMI z-score from\ud baseline. For 22 children with follow-up data, BMI z-score was significantly\ud reduced by -0.18 (95% CI -0.30 to -0.05, p=0.008) at the end of the programme,\ud and was sustained to 9-months (-0.21) and 2-years (-0.23). There were also\ud significant improvements in the children’s quality-of-life, eating and activity\ud environment, child-parent relationships and parent’s mental health. Fruit and\ud vegetable consumption, participation in moderate/vigorous exercise, and\ud children’s self-esteem did not change significantly. Interview data illustrated the\ud changes made by the families, particularly to their eating environment.\ud User and Provider Perspectives – The group-based parenting approach was\ud received well, providing the ‘tools’ for parents to become ‘agents of change’ in\ud the family. Suggested changes to the programme include providing follow-up\ud sessions and a greater focus on physical activity.\ud Economic Evaluation - Costs to run ‘Families for Health’ were £517 per family\ud or £402 per child, in-line with other group-based obesity management or\ud parenting interventions.\ud Conclusion - ‘Families for Health’ is a promising new intervention for the\ud management of childhood obesity

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