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Development and Qualitative Pretesting of Child Feeding and Obesity Prevention Messages for Parents of Infants and Toddlers

Published:March 11, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.02.004

      Abstract

      Background

      Consistent, evidence-based child feeding guidance targeted to parents of children ages birth to 24 months (B-24) is needed for early childhood obesity prevention.

      Objective

      The aim was to develop and pretest a comprehensive set of child feeding and obesity prevention messages for parents of children ages B-24.

      Design

      A qualitative, 2-phase protocol, grounded in social and behavior change, was used as a conceptual interview framework to pilot test early childhood feeding messages with parents.

      Participants/setting

      Participants were parents (n = 23) of children ages B-24.

      Methods

      A core set of 12 messages and supporting materials were developed for parents of children ages B-24 based on previous research findings, current research evidence, and feeding guidance. Parents were individually interviewed using a semistructured script along with additional questions to rank perceptions of message qualities.

      Main outcome measures

      Overall comprehension, importance, believability, ease of implementation, and likelihood of use of messages were assessed.

      Statistical analysis performed

      Data analysis included qualitative thematic analysis and descriptive statistics for Likert-scaled responses.

      Results

      Participants were primarily female, non-Hispanic White, with a mean age of 33.3 ± 6.8 years and at least a bachelor’s degree. Overall, most messages were understood, believable, perceived as important, and feasible by parents. Messages related to starting solid foods, encouraging child control of intake and self-feeding, and food allergen guidance were perceived as more difficult and less likely to be implemented by parents.

      Conclusions

      Additional research is needed to evaluate actual implementation of messages by diverse parents and resulting outcomes including impact on child weight.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      R. L. Heller is a medical science liaison, Scientific and Medical Affairs, Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, OH; at the time of the study, she was a graduate research assistant, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

      Biography

      A. R. Mobley is an associate professor, Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; at the time of the study, she was an associate professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.