New Publication: The Effectiveness of a Blended In-Person and Online Family-Based Childhood Obesity Management Program

By: Megan Perdew*Sam Liu*Ryan RhodesGeoff D.C. BallLouise C. MâsseTeresa Hartrick, Karen Strange, and Patti-Jean Naylor

Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 10-week blended family-based childhood obesity management program, relative to a wait-list control, in improving child body mass index (BMI) z-scores, child lifestyle behaviors, parental support for healthy eating and physical activity, and self-regulation for healthy eating and physical activity support.

Methods: This study was registered as a randomized wait-listed controlled trial; however, due to low recruitment and program delivery logistics, this study transitioned into a quasi-experimental design. Families with children 8–12 years of age with a BMI ≥85th percentile for age and sex were recruited (October 2018 to March 2019) in British Columbia, Canada. The intervention provided families 10 weeks of in-person and online support on improving lifestyle behaviors.

Results: Children's BMI z-scores were not significantly changed. Intervention group significantly improved their days of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity relative to control (0.75 ± 1.5; p < 0.01; ηp2 = 0.15); however, child dietary behaviors were not significantly changed. Relative to control, intervention group showed significant improvements in parental support for healthy eating (0.13 ± 0.36; p < 0.05; ηp2 = 0.06) and physical activity (1.0 ± 1.6; p < 0.05; ηp2 = 0.09) and self-regulation for healthy eating (2.0 ± 3.5; p < 0.01; ηp2 = 0.11) and physical activity support (2.0 ± 3.2; p < 0.05; ηp2 = 0.28).

Conclusions: Preliminary evidence showed that the intervention was not effective in improving child BMI z-scores, but it was effective in promoting children's physical activity and parents' support behaviors. A longer study period may be required to change BMI z-scores.

Clinical Trial Registration number: NCT03643341.

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* indicates Digital Health Lab members