Interventions that involve parents to improve children's weight-related nutrition intake and activity patterns - what nutrition and activity targets and behaviour change techniques are associated with intervention effectiveness?

Obes Rev. 2011 Feb;12(2):114-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00745.x.


Parent involvement is an important component of obesity prevention interventions. However, the best way to support parents remains unclear. This review identifies interventions targeting parents to improve children's weight status, dietary and/or activity patterns, examines whether intervention content and behaviour change techniques employed are associated with effectiveness. Seventeen studies, in English, 1998-2008, were included. Studies were evaluated by two reviewers for study quality, nutrition/activity content and behaviour change techniques using a validated quality assessment tool and behaviour change technique taxonomy. Study findings favoured intervention effectiveness in 11 of 17 studies. Interventions that were considered effective had similar features: better study quality, parents responsible for participation and implementation, greater parental involvement and inclusion of prompt barrier identification, restructure the home environment, prompt self-monitoring, prompt specific goal setting behaviour change techniques. Energy intake/density and food choices were more likely to be targeted in effective interventions. The number of lifestyle behaviours targeted did not appear to be associated with effectiveness. Intervention effectiveness was favoured when behaviour change techniques spanned the spectrum of behaviour change process. The review provides guidance for researchers to make informed decisions on how best to utilize resources in interventions to support and engage parents, and highlights a need for improvement in intervention content reporting practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology