Impact of a Family-Based Obesity Prevention Intervention on Parental Body Composition




Ambrose, Tory

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University of Guelph


Little is known about the effect of family-based, obesity prevention interventions on parental body composition, as studies focus on children’s body composition. The Guelph Family Health Study is a randomized controlled trial focused on creating healthy behaviour change in families with preschool-aged children. Families in the Guelph ON area were randomized to control (no home visits), 2 home visits (2HV) or 4 home visits (4HV) with a health educator, and were followed for 6 months. This sub-study examined the effect of the intervention on parental body composition outcomes, including fat mass (%, measured using a BOD POD™), waist circumference (WC, cm), BMI (kg/m2) and body mass (kg), in a sample of 35 families (26 mothers, 32 fathers). An analysis to determine differences in body composition between intervention groups was performed using generalized estimating equations (GEE) to account for familial correlations (adjusted for parental age, sex, household income and baseline measures). At 6-month follow-up (immediately post-intervention), the 2HV group had a lower body mass (p=0.0168), and at 18-month follow up, had significantly lower WC (p=0.0197), when compared to control. In a sub-analysis of parents who were overweight/obese at baseline (BMI ≥25 kg/m2), the 2HV group had lower WC (p=0.0029) and body mass (p=0.0400) at 6-month follow-up when compared to control. At 18-month follow up, the 2HV group had significantly lower WC (p=0.007), BMI (p=0.0139) and body mass (p=0.0068) when compared to control. In parents classified as normal weight at baseline (BMI <25 kg/m2), the 4HV group had lower fat mass (p=0.0371), while the 2HV group had lower BMI (p=0.0159) and body mass (p=0.0064), at 6-month follow-up, both compared to control. There were no significant differences at 18-month follow up. Family-based, obesity prevention interventions have a positive impact on parental body composition, regardless of parents’ baseline weight status. These positive impacts are sustained at 18-month follow up (1-year post-intervention) by those who are overweight/obese at baseline. Our results show that family-based interventions can have positive, unintended results on parental body composition indicating family-based interventions should be explored as a possible intervention approach to improve weight outcomes in parents.



obesity, body composition, parents