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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Home Visits Can Promote Healthy Changes for Children

Partnership with a national home visiting organization to embed a lifestyle intervention within real-world practice can help parents make healthy food-related changes in their household, according to research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers recruited mothers with overweight or obesity with at least one preschool child at risk for overweight who received visits by parent educators from Parents As Teachers (PAT), the national program aimed at improving parenting. Participants receiving the Healthy Eating and Active Living Taught at Home (HEALTH) intervention received content embedded in the standard PAT program that focused on strategies such as limiting intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, offering fruits and vegetables instead of high-calorie snacks, limiting portion sizes and increasing physical activity.

HEALTH group participants made soda less easily available and accessible at their homes over 12 and 24 months of follow-up, while soda availability and access in the homes of usual care participants did not change. Availability and accessibility of soda in the home was the only home environment factor impacted by the intervention.

“Targeted, specific strategies can help parents make food-related home environment changes to facilitate healthy choices,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Rachel G. Tabak, associate professor at the Brown School  “Future interventions could seek to more effectively intervene to promote healthy eating behaviors and prevent obesity through simple messaging and targeting specific risk behaviors.”

The study was published June 26 in Frontiers in Public Health.

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[Photo:  Dr. Rachel G. Tabak]