You KAN-DO It!

Childhood obesity prevention program enables moms to feed their children well

(RxWiki News) It's easier for preschoolers to eat well when families have the tools to think about good nutrition. Moms were able to do so with the KAN-DO program.

A new study found that the 'Kids and Adults Now - Defeat Obesity!' program, which aimed to prevent childhood obesity, improved how mothers' fed and influenced their preschoolers' diets.

"Making changes to dietary intake and physical activity is challenging at any time; instituting such changes in a home environment with multiple young children may be particularly overwhelming," the authors said in their report.

"Your family can positively change eating habits."

The study, led by Truls Ostbye, MD, PhD, from the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, looked at how well the program KAN-DO taught and encouraged mothers and their preschoolers to have healthy behaviors.

The study included 400 postpartum women who were overweight or obese and their children who were between 2- and 5-years-old.

The women and their children were randomly divided into one of two groups.

The first group received an interactive kit from KAN-DO once a month for eight months, followed by a 20-30 minute coaching session over the phone.

Kits included activities and incentives for the children to reinforce the topic of the month.

The goal was to get to and maintain a healthy weight through parenting instruction, techniques to manage stress and learning about health behaviors.

Parents were instructed to be authoritative in their parenting and be role models for eating well and being active.

They were also encouraged to have a routine for sleep and mealtimes, maintain a supportive home environment and improve how they feed their children.

The coaching phone interviews reviewed information and talked about motivation, the ability to follow procedures and what problems the parents came across.

The second group received monthly newsletters containing pre-reading skills and was offered money incentives for completing the tests.

Researchers measured participants' stress level, feeding practices, home environment and level of physical activity both before and after the study.

The mothers also reported what their diet was like for themselves and their children, including sugary beverages, fast food servings, fruits and vegetables.

Researchers found differences in the "parenting and maternal outcomes and there were trends toward improvement in the preschoolers' diets," they said in their report.

Moms given the KAN-DO kits significantly reduced instrumental feeding and TV snacks compared to the other group.

Improvements were also made in emotional eating, drinking sugary beverages, and fruit and vegetable intake.

The authors said in their report that the KAN-DO study is the first to show that "changes to parenting behaviors (feeding practices) can be made via a mailed intervention."

"The intervention emphasized that a mother's attempts to improve healthy lifestyles in her home can be more effective when she is better able to adopt and model these behaviors herself," the authors wrote in their report.

The researchers note several limitations with their study. Most of the participants were highly educated married women, which is not representative of the population.

Second, the way the study was designed looked at specific behaviors that may not show the full extent of how the program affected other aspects of health.

Lastly, the outcomes are based on what the participants reported, which may or may not be completely reliable.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Health and National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease,

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The study was published online June 13 in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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Review Date: 
September 19, 2012