Putting Family in Guelph Family Health Study
With 1 in 4 Canadian preschoolers being considered overweight or obese, interventions aimed at promoting healthy weights and weight-related behaviours among young children have become a public health priority. The Guelph Family Health Study (GFHS) is a longitudinal cohort study that aims to promote healthy behaviours among young children (18 months-5 years) and their families. The GFHS 6-month program uses a unique combination of home visits with health educators, motivating emails and mailed incentives designed to improve household routines associated with reduced obesity risk (i.e. increasing family meals, sleep, and physical activity, and reducing screen time). The longitudinal nature and scale of the study present unique challenges when thinking about long-term participant engagement. To start addressing these challenges, a Family Council - an example of community engaged scholarship - was established. The Family Council is made up of 14 parents who are participants in the Guelph Family Health Study (70% mothers, 64% white). The Family Council meets 3 times a year to provide advice to the study team regarding study recruitment, protocols, materials and translation of study results. The reciprocal nature of Family Council meetings allows for the integration of community members' ideas into the research, and ensures that findings are relevant to our participants and their families. This poster will describe this experience, as well as successes and challenges that have resulted from this unique form of participant engagement.