Short-Term Effects of an Obesity Prevention Program Among Low-Income Hispanic Families With Preschoolers

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2020 Mar;52(3):224-239. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.12.001. Epub 2020 Jan 6.


Objective: To assess the short-term effects of an obesity prevention program promoting eating self-regulation and healthy food preferences in low-income Hispanic children.

Design: Randomized controlled trial with pretest, posttest, and 6- and 12-month assessments.

Setting and participants: Head Start and similar early learning institutions in Houston, TX, and Pasco, WA. A total of 255 families with preschoolers randomized into prevention (n = 136) and control (n = 119) groups.

Intervention: Multicomponent family-based prevention program. Fourteen waves lasted 7 weeks each with 8-10 mother-child dyads in each group.

Main outcome measures: Parent assessments included feeding practices, styles, and knowledge. Child assessments included child eating self-regulation, willingness to try new foods, and parent report of child fruit and vegetable preferences. Parent and child heights and weights were measured.

Analysis: Multilevel analyses were employed to consider the nested nature of the data: time points within families within waves.

Results: The program had predicted effects on parental feeding practices, styles, and knowledge in the pre- to post-comparisons. Effects on child eating behavior were minimal; only the number of different vegetables tried showed significant pre-post differences.

Conclusions and implications: Short-term effects of this prevention program highlight the importance of family-focused feeding approaches to combating child overweight and obesity.

Keywords: child eating self-regulation; child food preferences; childhood obesity; family-based; prevention program.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Poverty
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas
  • Washington