Introduction: Research shows that parents’ participation in weight management interventions can help reduce obesity in their children. However, no studies have examined if those findings from highly controlled settings can be replicated in real-world settings. The current study uses an existing real-world resource - in the form of, a widely available commercial adult weight-management program - as a delivery vehicle for intervention. Results provide insight into translating clinical findings into innovative, low-cost, community-based interventions.
Purpose: Examine the impact from overweight/obese parents’ participation in an 8-week Weight Watchers’ program on health behaviors and outcomes in their overweight/obese children.
Methods: We used data from 20 parents and their children aged 6 to 12 years collected at baseline and 8-weeks follow-up visits. Physical activity and sedentary time data were collected using accelerometers during two, seven-day cycles. Dietary behavior data were collected using the Block Food Screener. BMI data were calculated from measured height and weight. Bivariate correlation was used to quantify associations in data for parent-child dyads.
Results: Mean age was 42.5± 6.3 years and 9.2 ± 6.9 years for parents and children, respectively; 89.5% of parents and 73.7% of children were female. Change in parents’ BMI over 8 weeks was positively associated with change in their children’s BMI (r=0.30 [95% CI: -0.18, 0.66]); Correlation of changes in intake of total fat, saturated fat, and kilocalories were r=0.67 [0.26, 0.87], r=0.70 [0.31, 0.89], and r=0.58 [0.12, 0.83]), respectively. Parents’ self-efficacy for supporting their child’s physical activity was moderately associated with change in their child’s BMI (r=0.48 [0.03, 0.77]).
Conclusions: The associations found between Weight Watchers’ participants and their children suggest that widely-available, commercial adult-targeted weight management programs represent an effective, low-cost, real-world delivery vehicle for addressing childhood obesity. Our findings can help incentivize parents to participate in weight-management programs - to realize health benefits not only for themselves, but for their children as well.