Background: More than 20% of US children ages 2-5 yrs are classified as overweight or obese. Parents greatly influence the behaviors their children adopt, including those which impact weight (e.g., diet and physical activity). Unfortunately, parents often fail to recognize the risk for excess weight gain in young children, and may not be motivated to modify behavior. Research is needed to explore intervention strategies that engage families with young children and motivate parents to adopt behaviors that will foster healthy weight development.
Methods: This study tests the efficacy of the 35-week My Parenting SOS intervention. The intervention consists of 12 sessions: initial sessions focus on general parenting skills (stress management, effective parenting styles, child behavior management, coparenting, and time management) and later sessions apply these skills to promote healthier eating and physical activity habits. The primary outcome is change in child percent body fat. Secondary measures assess parent and child dietary intake (three 24-hr recalls) and physical activity (accelerometry), general parenting style and practices, nutrition- and activity-related parenting practices, and parent motivation to adopt healthier practices.
Discussion: Testing of these new approaches contributes to our understanding of how general and weight-specific parenting practices influence child weight, and whether or not they can be changed to promote healthy weight trajectories.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00998348.