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Enhancing parent engagement in family-based programs is key to combating childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is a growing concern in the United States. Family-based programs have shown promise in addressing this issue, but low parent engagement often limits their efficacy. A recent study published in the journal BMC Public Health examined predictors of parent engagement in family-based childhood obesity programs. Participants were predominantly female (98.4%) and Hispanic (97.6%), with families attending an average of three workshops. The study utilized a zero-inflated Poisson (ZIP) model to examine predictors of parent engagement, and the results showed that readiness to change and family functioning were significant predictors of attendance.

Readiness to Change: The Key to Successful Parenting Interventions

Parents’ readiness to change their own behaviors and parenting strategies was a critical predictor of non-attendance at planned intervention activities. Since readiness to change is a modifiable factor, it presents an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to tailor their communication and intervention content based on a family’s readiness to change.

Strong Family Functioning Linked to Better Attendance in Childhood Obesity Programs

Family functioning emerged as a predictor of the degree of attendance in the study. This aligns with other research that has found a link between family functioning and engagement in childhood obesity programs. Understanding the dynamics of family communication and support can help design and implement more effective interventions.

Child BMI Classification and Parent Engagement

The study found that parent engagement may vary based on the child’s BMI classification. In adjusted models for healthy-weight children, the results were similar to the full sample, while in models for overweight or obese children, no significant predictors of non-attendance or degree of attendance emerged. This indicates the need for further research and tailored strategies for different BMI classifications.

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Boosting Weight Loss Success: Strategies to Improve Readiness and Communication

Tailoring methods throughout family-based childhood obesity prevention and control programs improves parent engagement. One approach is incorporating motivational interviewing during enrollment to increase readiness to change. Another strategy is to use appropriate, non-stigmatizing language when communicating weight-related health issues, which could increase the perceived need for intervention.

The Importance of Family Support in Addressing Weight-Related Behaviors

Family systems theory should serve as the foundation for family-based childhood obesity prevention and control efforts. Practitioners are encouraged to identify ways to assess and address family organization and communication around weight-related behaviors throughout the program’s duration, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach.

Family Obesity Prevention With Tailored Strategies and Compassionate Communication

To improve parent engagement in family-based childhood obesity prevention and control programs, it’s crucial to tailor strategies throughout the program. One approach is incorporating motivational interviewing during enrollment to increase readiness to change. Another strategy is to use appropriate, non-stigmatizing language when communicating weight-related health issues, which could increase the perceived need for intervention.

As childhood obesity rates in the U.S. continue to rise, there’s a pressing need for effective interventions. Researchers and practitioners can improve program outcomes by understanding and addressing factors influencing parent engagement in family-based programs. Strategies like motivational interviewing and addressing family functioning can significantly enhance parent engagement in these programs.

Sources:

Schmied, E. A., Madanat, H., Chuang, E., Moody, J., Ibarra, L., Cervantes, G., Strong, D., Boutelle, K., & Ayala, G. X. (2023). Factors predicting parent engagement in a family-based childhood obesity prevention and control program. BMC Public Health, 23(1), 457. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-023-15359-7

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