PARENT Trial: Parenting and Addressing at-obesity Risk Early years iNtervention with home visits in Toronto: A pragmatic RCT

Dr. Catherine Birken, The Hospital for Sick Children



Childhood obesity is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and parents and doctors in Ontario have identified obesity prevention as one of the 5 most important research priorities for children. Methods that may assist in obesity prevention include parenting programs and nurse home visits. A strategy that aims to prevent childhood obesity through primary care employing group parenting and nurse home visits may have broad impact, since nearly all children in Ontario visit their doctor numerous times in the first 3 years of life.

Objective and Trial Procedure

This study will determine whether a primary care based intervention that combines group based parenting skills training and public health nurse home visits with a focus on healthy nutrition, activity and sleep, compared to regular health care will lead to improved weight status in 18 months-3 year old children.

Healthy children at risk for obesity will be identified through primary care practices participating in TARGet Kids!. Families who participate in this study will be randomly assigned (having an equal chance of being in either group) to one of the two study groups that will run for 6-months:

  • Group A: Receive 10-weeks of group parenting education sessions with 2-4 public health nurse home visits

  • Group B: Receive regular health care

In addition to the measures collected as part of TARGet Kids!, research assistants will collect the following information about you and your child before the start of the trial, and after 6-months:

  1. Parenting Questionnaires from the parent

  2. Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS-21) from the parent

  3. A blood sample from your child

We will measure the differences in weight, height, social, emotional and behavioural health, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, risk for heart disease and diabetes, and health care use.

Importance of the Trial

This study will build the evidence for prevention of early childhood obesity with existing primary healthcare and public health resources in Ontario.