INTRODUCTION: Early childhood is an important period for establishing behaviours that will affect weight gain and health across the life course. Early feeding choices, including breast and/or formula, timing of introduction of solids, physical activity and electronic media use among infants and young children are considered likely determinants of childhood obesity. Parents play a primary role in shaping these behaviours through parental modelling, feeding styles, and the food and physical activity environments provided. Children from low socio-economic backgrounds have higher rates of obesity, making early intervention particularly important. However, such families are often more difficult to reach and may be less likely to participate in traditional programs that support healthy behaviours. Parents across all socio-demographic groups frequently access primary health care (PHC) services, including nurses in community health services and general medical practices, providing unparalleled opportunity for engagement to influence family behaviours. One emerging and promising area that might maximise engagement at a low cost is the provision of support for healthy parenting through electronic media such as the Internet or smart phones. The Growing healthy study explores the feasibility of delivering such support via primary health care services.
METHODS: This paper describes the Growing healthy study, a non-randomised quasi experimental study examining the feasibility of an intervention delivered via a smartphone app (or website) for parents living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, for promoting infant feeding and parenting behaviours that promote healthy rather than excessive weight gain. Participants will be recruited via their primary health care practitioner and followed until their infant is 9 months old. Data will be collected via web-based questionnaires and the data collected inherently by the app itself.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study received approval from the University of Technology Sydney Ethics committee and will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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