Human-centered designed communication tools for obesity prevention in early life

Prev Med Rep. 2023 Jul 22:35:102333. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102333. eCollection 2023 Oct.


Objective: How we communicate about obesity is critical as treatment paradigms shift upstream. We previously identified parental perceptions, concerns, beliefs, and communication preferences about early life obesity risk. We engaged parents of children 0 to 24 months of age and pediatricians from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA in the co-design of messages and tools that can be used to facilitate parent/provider conversations about early life obesity prevention.

Methods: From April to June 2021, we conducted a series of co-design workshops with parents of children ages 0 to 24 months and pediatricians to identify their preferences for communicating obesity prevention in the setting of a pediatric well visit. Human-centered design techniques, including affinity diagraming and model building, were used to inform key elements of a communication model and communication strategy messages. These elements were combined and refined to create prototype tools that were subsequently refined using stakeholder feedback.

Results: Parent participants included 11 mothers and 2 fathers: 8 white, 4 black, and 1 Asian; median age 33 years with 38% reporting annual household incomes less than $50,000. Pediatricians included 7 female and 6 male providers; 69% white. Through an iterative process of co-design, we created an exam room poster that addresses common misconceptions about infant feeding, sleep and exercise, and a behavior change plan to foster parent/provider collaboration focused on achieving children's healthy weight.

Conclusions: Our hands-on, collaborative approach may ultimately improve uptake, acceptability and usability of early life obesity interventions by ensuring that parents remain at the center of prevention efforts.

Keywords: Human-centered design; Obesity prevention; Pediatrics; Qualitative research.