Household Routines May Help Reduce BMI in Minority Children

An intervention to improve household routines known to be associated with obesity increased sleep duration and reduced TV viewing among low-income, minority children, and the approach may be an effective tool to reduce BMI in that population, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

Racial and ethnic minority children and those who live in low-income households are disproportionately overweight and it is urgent to develop an intervention for them, Jess Haines, PhD, MHSc, of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues, wrote in the study background.

“The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which a home-based intervention, compared with a mailed control condition focused on healthful development, resulted in improvements in household routines that may be preventive of childhood overweight and obesity among racial/ethnic minority and low-income families with children aged 2 to 5 years,” the authors noted.

The study assigned 121 families with children at random into intervention (n = 62) or control groups (n = 59). A total of 111 children-parent pairings completed the six-month follow-up assessments.

The intervention, which used home-based counseling and phone calls, was designed to change behaviors related to excess weight gain, but child weight was not discussed in the intervention.

Compared with the control group, which received educational materials, intervention participants experienced increased sleep duration (0.75 hours/day), greater decreases in TV viewing on weekend days (-1.06 hours/day) and decreased BMI (-0.40), according to the study results.

“In summary, after six months, we found that the Healthy Habits, Happy Homes intervention improved sleep duration and TV viewing behaviors, as well as decreased BMI among racially/ethnically diverse children from low-income households. Future studies with a longer follow-up are needed to determine maintenance of these behavior changes,” the authors concluded.

Source: American Medical Association

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