Effect of a low-intensity parent-focused nutrition intervention on dietary intake of 2- to 5-year olds

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Dec;57(6):728-34. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000068.


Objectives: Community-based nutrition interventions aimed at influencing child dietary intake are rarely evaluated. We hypothesised that providing self-directed nutrition and parenting resources to parents living in rural northern New South Wales, Australia, would positively affect the dietary patterns of children ages 2 to 5 years.

Methods: A total of 146 parent-child dyads (76 boys, ages 2.0-5.9 years) were randomly assigned to either a 12-month parent-centred intervention involving self-directed education provided in CD and DVD formats, or a participant-blinded control group who received generic nutrition and physical activity information. Data were collected at baseline, 3, and 12 months.

Results: Total reported energy from nutrient-dense food groups and percentage energy from energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods were high at baseline relative to estimated total energy expenditure for child age. Using random effects modelling, there were significant group-by-time effects for a reduction in mean (standard deviation) total energy intake (EI) at 12 months (-461 kJ/day (196); P = 0.04). An intervention group-by-time effect on carbohydrate intake (-17.4 g/day (10.6); P < 0.05) was largely attributable to decreased consumption of breads and cereals (-180 g/day (80); P = 0.007). Decreases in energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The proportion of total EI from noncore foods in children in rural New South Wales is high and did not improve in response to a low-intensity nutrition intervention. Parents reported small changes in consumption frequency for core and noncore food intakes, leading to a reduction in total EI. Strategies to increase resource use such as prompting via e-mail are required to further explore the effectiveness of nutrition resource dissemination at a population level.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet / standards*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Parents*
  • Rural Population