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Obesity prevention in early life: an opportunity to better support the role of Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia

Laws, R., Campbell, K. J., van der Pligt, P., Ball, K., Lynch, J., Russell, G., Taylor, R. and Denney-Wilson, E. 2015, Obesity prevention in early life: an opportunity to better support the role of Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia, BMC Nursing, vol. 14, no. 26, pp. 1-14, doi: 10.1186/s12912-015-0077-7.

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Title Obesity prevention in early life: an opportunity to better support the role of Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia
Author(s) Laws, R.ORCID iD for Laws, R. orcid.org/0000-0003-4328-1116
Campbell, K. J.ORCID iD for Campbell, K. J. orcid.org/0000-0002-4499-3396
van der Pligt, P.
Ball, K.ORCID iD for Ball, K. orcid.org/0000-0003-2893-8415
Lynch, J.
Russell, G.
Taylor, R.
Denney-Wilson, E.
Journal name BMC Nursing
Volume number 14
Issue number 26
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1472-6955
Keyword(s) Children
Families
Infant feeding
Nurses
Obesity prevention
Primary health care
Summary BACKGROUND: Because parents with young children access primary health care services frequently, a key opportunity arises for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) nurses to actively work with families to support healthy infant feeding practices and lifestyle behaviours. However, little is known regarding the extent to which MCH nurses promote obesity prevention practices and how such practices could be better supported. METHODS: This mixed methods study involved a survey of 56 MCH nurses (response rate 84.8 %), 16 of whom participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Both components aimed to examine the extent to which nurses addressed healthy infant feeding practices, healthy eating, active play and limiting sedentary behavior during routine consultations with young children 0-5 years. Key factors influencing such practices and how they could be best supported were also investigated. All data were collected from September to December 2013. Survey data were analysed descriptively and triangulated with qualitative interview findings, the analysis of which was guided by grounded theory principles. RESULTS: Although nurses reported measuring height/length and weight in most consultations, almost one quarter (22.2 %) reported never/rarely using growth charts to identify infants or children at risk of overweight or obesity. This reflected a reluctance to raise the issue of weight with parents and a lack of confidence in how to address it. The majority of nurses reported providing advice on aspects of infant feeding relevant to obesity prevention at most consultations, with around a third (37 %) routinely provided advice on formula preparation. Less than half of nurses routinely promoted active play and only 30 % discussed limiting sedentary behaviour such as TV viewing. Concerns about parental receptiveness and maintaining rapport were key barriers to more effective implementation. CONCLUSION: While MCH nurses are well placed to address obesity prevention in early life, there is currently a missed public health opportunity. Improving nurse skills in behaviour change counseling will be key to increasing their confidence in raising sensitive lifestyle issues with parents to better integrate obesity prevention practices into normal MCH service delivery.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12912-015-0077-7
Field of Research 111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920501 Child Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, BioMed Central
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30073365

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.