Low-income children and children of obese parents are at high risk of obesity. Effective interventions are needed to target these families to improve the health of the parents and prevent obesity in the children. The hypothesis is that an intervention that combines engagement of community organizations, motivational interviewing (MI, a technique proven to help people set goals that are personally meaningful), and resource mobilization will change diet and physical activity habits among disadvantaged families. This proposal grew from an established community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership between the research team and community organizations that serve high minority (45-55%), low-income populations. Partners include a community health center, a food pantry network, a work-force training program, and other agencies. These partners designed and implemented a successful pilot project on which this proposal is based.
The specific aims of this proposal are 1) to evaluate the efficacy of a family-targeted obesity intervention based on MI and resource-mobilization. Hypotheses: In comparison to control families, families participating in the intervention will demonstrate a) a reduction in BMI for adults, b) an increase in minutes of moderate physical activity and decreased sedentary time for both adults and children (accelerometer), and c) a reduction in the number of obesity risk behaviors and an increase in obesity prevention behaviors among children. 2) To examine the mediators of intervention effects. 3) identify the types of resources needed most often by intervention families to support lifestyle change. This randomized controlled trial includes 260 low-income families that contain at least one obese adult and one normal or overweight child between 6 and 12. The 12-month intervention has two elements. 1) A health coach will use MI to help families explore ambivalence toward and motivations for change and set goals for improving diet and physical activity. 2) To support goals, families will be connected with community agencies that can assist with general (e.g., financial) and goal specific resources (e.g., food, physical activity opportunities). Collaboration between organizations will streamline referrals, maximize resources, and facilitate access. Control families will get a basic screen for needs and information about available community resources. Outcomes are measured at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months. This intervention is innovative in that it 1) focuses on lifestyle changes for the entire family and measures outcomes in adults and children, 2) combines MI focused on the entire family and community resource referrals specific to family needs and goals for change, 3) partners community organizations to coordinate resources for families, and 4) involves partners in all research phases via a CBPR approach. This contribution will be significant because the proposed intervention, if successful, can be replicated elsewhere and adapted to the local resource environment to address adult obesity and prevent childhood obesity in a high-risk population. The study will also identify the types of resources low-income families need to change diet and physical activity.

Public Health Relevance

The increasing prevalence of obesity is a public health concern, and creative approaches are needed to prevent and treat obesity, particularly for low-income children with obese parents. This research will test whether a health coach plus resources from community agencies can be used to reduce or prevent obesity in families with an obese parent by changing diet and activity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Pratt, Charlotte
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University of Iowa
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Iowa City
United States
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Metcalf, Kristen M; Baquero, Barbara I; Coronado Garcia, Mayra L et al. (2018) Calibration of the global physical activity questionnaire to Accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary behavior. BMC Public Health 18:412