Background

Parents/caregivers (CG) are primary decision makers in the home environment and are key stakeholders in pediatric obesity treatment. We Can! (NIH developed CG education program) includes four 2-hour interactive sessions with didactic healthy lifestyle education and group discussion. This program provides CGs with training and tools to help them support their family goals of living a healthy lifestyle. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of an intensive four week curriculum for caregivers with children from an urban pediatric weight management clinic.

Methods

The study was open to CG of 7-15 year old patients with obesity (BMI >95th percentile for age and sex) currently participating in a pediatric weight management clinic. Measurements were taken at baseline, immediately after, and three months post completion of We Can! sessions. Height and weight were measured. Body composition was assessed with bioelectrical impedance (InBody 770). CG also completed We Can! program surveys evaluating knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors on nutrition, screen time and physical activity. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and body composition.

Results

Seventy CG were approached, 17 parents (16 female, 41±5 yrs old, 12 African American, 4 Caucasian, BMI 44±7 kg/m2, 50±5% bodyfat) and 17 children (8 female, 12±2 yrs old, BMI 146% of 95th-%ile,48±6% body fat ) participated in the program. There were no significant changes in CG knowledge, attitudes or behaviors (Ps>0.20). No significant differences were found in CG and patient body fat %, visceral fat and BMI (Ps>0.18). Satisfaction surveys indicated that all the participants either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” the program was both useful and helpful to them as parents.

Conclusions

CG had strong baseline knowledge, attitudes and beliefs which blunted improvement, however CG found We Can! to be a supportive and valuable program.