Enhancing the evidence base by value adding to an existing successful intervention for child obesity prevention: The InFANT-Extend Randomised Controlled Trial

  • Topic:
  • Institution: Deakin University
  • Country: Australia
  • Status: Completed

Scientific abstract

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Background

Understanding how we can prevent childhood obesity in scalable and sustainable ways is imperative. Early RCT interventions that focused on the first two years of life have shown promise, however, differences in body mass index between intervention and control groups diminish once the interventions cease. Innovative, scalable strategies seeking to continue to support parents to engender energy balance behaviours which will support healthy growth trajectories across early life in young children need to be explored.

Methods

The Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Extend Program builds on the early outcomes of the Melbourne InFANT Program. This cluster randomized controlled trial tests the efficacy of an extended (33 versus 15 month) and enhanced (use of web-based materials, and Facebook® engagement), version of the original Melbourne InFANT Program intervention in a new cohort of 514 families from 62 first-time parent groups. Outcomes at 36 months of age were compared against the control group.

Findings

This low-dose intervention targeting first-time parents in pre-existing social groups resulted in improved water and non-core drink consumption at 18 months of age, however, these effects were not maintained to three years of age. While the capacity of this study to show effect has likely been substantially limited by the highly educated sample recruited and maintained (despite a low socio-economic area sampling frame). It is also likely that the intensity of the post-group level intervention (18 months to three years) needed to be greater.

Plain language abstract

Background

Understanding how we can prevent childhood obesity in cheap, effective and long-lasting ways is important if we’re to reduce the health burdens associated with overweight and obesity. Early programs focused on the first two years of life have shown promise in promoting healthy diet and reduced screen time, however, it is difficult to maintain the gains made in the first two years of life as the child grows older. Given this, we need to find innovative and achievable ways to continue to support parents to engender behaviours that will support healthy lifestyle behaviours across early life.

Aims and objectives

This study trialled the effective group based Melbourne InFANT Program by extending the program until children were aged three years, through the use of Facebook, emailed newsletters (every three months) and linked web-based resources (video vignettes on healthy eating and play behaviours), and written resources.

How the study was carried out

The Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Extend Program builds on the early outcomes of the Melbourne InFANT Program. This cluster randomized controlled trial tests the efficacy of an extended (33 versus 15 month) and enhanced (use of web-based materials, and Facebook® engagement), version of the original Melbourne InFANT Program intervention in a new cohort of 514 families from 62 first-time parent groups. Outcomes at 36 months of age were compared against the control group.

Key findings and conclusions

This low-dose intervention targeting first-time parents in pre-existing social groups resulted in improved water and non-core drink consumption at 18 months of age, however, despite continuing to promote program content, these effects were not maintained to three years of age. The capacity of this study to show effect has likely been substantially limited by the highly educated sample recruited and maintained (despite a low socio-economic area sampling frame). It is also likely that the intensity of the post group level intervention (18 months to three years) needed to be greater.

Grant publications