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An evaluation of ‘Families for Health’ : a new family-based intervention for the management of childhood obesity

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Objectives - To develop and pilot a community-based family programme,‘Families for Health’, for intervention with overweight and obese children aged 7-11 years.

Intervention – ‘Families for Health’ is a 12-week programme, with parallel groups for parents and children, combining support for parenting, lifestyle change, as well as social & emotional development.

Design of the Evaluation – Pilot study using mixed-methods comprising: process evaluation; outcome evaluation involving a ‘before and after’ evaluation and triangulation with interview data; economic evaluation (cost-outcome description); users and providers perspectives.

Setting – Leisure Centre, Coventry, England Participants – 27 overweight or obese children aged 7-13 years (18 girls, 9 boys) and their parents, from 21 families.

Process Evaluation – Two groups were run, and were delivered as planned. Recruitment was difficult, although most effective via the media. Attendance rate was 62%, with 18(67%) children completing the programme.

Outcome Evaluation – Primary outcome was change in the BMI z-score from baseline. For 22 children with follow-up data, BMI z-score was significantly reduced by -0.18 (95% CI -0.30 to -0.05, p=0.008) at the end of the programme, and was sustained to 9-months (-0.21) and 2-years (-0.23). There were also significant improvements in the children’s quality-of-life, eating and activity environment, child-parent relationships and parent’s mental health. Fruit and vegetable consumption, participation in moderate/vigorous exercise, and children’s self-esteem did not change significantly. Interview data illustrated the changes made by the families, particularly to their eating environment.

User and Provider Perspectives – The group-based parenting approach was received well, providing the ‘tools’ for parents to become ‘agents of change’ in the family. Suggested changes to the programme include providing follow-up sessions and a greater focus on physical activity.

Economic Evaluation - Costs to run ‘Families for Health’ were £517 per family or £402 per child, in-line with other group-based obesity management or parenting interventions.

Conclusion - ‘Families for Health’ is a promising new intervention for the management of childhood obesity.



editors comments

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APA reference for this document


Reference :   Robertson, W. (2009). An evaluation of ‘Families for Health’ : a new family-based intervention for the management of childhood obesity. PhD thesis, Warwick: University of Warwick. Available at


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Access this URL (, W. (2009). An evaluation of ‘Families for Health’ : a new family-based intervention for the management of childhood obesity. PhD thesis, Warwick: University of Warwick
Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 11:00