You'll find details below of the funded research studies that we've undertaken as a team.
Our exploratory, mixed methods study of parents' and health professionals' views about overweight and obesity prevention during infancy was conducted in order to enhance understanding about whether intervention is appropriate and, if so, how it might be delivered.
The findings revealed that understanding is needed in relation to determine who might be at risk, and the most appropriate interventions to use to facilitate parental behavioural change in relation to infant feeding/physical activity.
Our study comprised a systematic review of the risk factors for childhood overweight that could be identified during infancy and the development of a predictor model using the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). A further study has now been carried out to validate this model using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The validated predictor model is called the Infant Risk of Obesity Checklist (IROC).
Our project was undertaken with co-investigators from the Universities of Nottingham and Lincoln, together with partners from the NHS. This was a translational study which involved a systematic review of behavioural and non-behavioural interventions to prevent childhood obesity in the under-2s. The findings were used to develop guidelines for health visitors to use with parents of infants.
One in five children in the UK is overweight by the time they start school, providing a strong rationale for prevention during infancy. Identifying infants who are at increased risk of becoming overweight enables a targeted response so that parents can make healthy changes to reduce the risk of obesity for their child.
The study team has developed a checklist of the main risk factors for child obesity which can be identified in the first year of life. This checklist has been incorporated into a user-friendly, multimedia computer programme, ProAsk, which aids communication between health visitors and parents about this sensitive issue. ProAsk prompts questions about factors such as parental weight and lifestyle during pregnancy, infant birth weight and growth. It uses the parent or carer’s responses to these questions to calculate their infant’s risk of becoming overweight as a child compared to other infants. ProAsk also contains suggestions about ways parents can make healthy changes to reduce the risk for their infant.
UK health visitors will deliver ProAsk via a tablet computer to consenting parents as part of a feasibility trial.