Examining unanswered questions about the home environment and childhood obesity disparities using an incremental, mixed-methods, longitudinal study design: The Family Matters study

Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Nov:62:61-76. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2017.08.002. Epub 2017 Aug 9.


There are disparities in the prevalence of childhood obesity for children from low-income and minority households. Mixed-methods studies that examine home environments in an in-depth manner are needed to identify potential mechanisms driving childhood obesity disparities that have not been examined in prior research. The Family Matters study aims to identify risk and protective factors for childhood obesity in low-income and minority households through a two-phased incremental, mixed-methods, and longitudinal approach. Individual, dyadic (i.e., parent/child; siblings), and familial factors that are associated with, or moderate associations with childhood obesity will be examined. Phase I includes in-home observations of diverse families (n=150; 25 each of African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, Hmong, Somali, and White families). In-home observations include: (1) an interactive observational family task; (2) ecological momentary assessment of parent stress, mood, and parenting practices; (3) child and parent accelerometry; (4) three 24-hour child dietary recalls; (5) home food inventory; (6) built environment audit; (7) anthropometry on all family members; (8) an online survey; and (9) a parent interview. Phase I data will be used for analyses and to inform development of a culturally appropriate survey for Phase II. The survey will be administered at two time points to diverse parents (n=1200) of children ages 5-9. The main aim of the current paper is to describe the Family Matters complex study design and protocol and to report Phase I feasibility data for participant recruitment and study completion. Results from this comprehensive study will inform the development of culturally-tailored interventions to reduce childhood obesity disparities.

Keywords: Childhood obesity disparities; Ecological momentary assessment; Home environment; Low-income; Minority; Mixed-methods.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environment
  • Family / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Parenting / ethnology
  • Parents
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology*
  • Poverty / ethnology*
  • Research Design
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology