UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Perceptions of a family-based lifestyle intervention for children with overweight and obesity: a qualitative study on sustainability, self-regulation, and program optimization Putter, Kaila C.; Jackson, Ben; Thornton, Ashleigh L.; Willis, Claire E.; Goh, Kong M. B.; Beauchamp, Mark R. (Mark Robert), 1972-; Benjanuvatra, Nat; Dimmock, James A.; Budden, Timothy


Background Family-based lifestyle interventions (FBLIs) are an important method for treating childhood weight problems. Despite being recognized as an effective intervention method, the optimal structure of these interventions for children’s overweight and obesity has yet to be determined. Our aim was to better understand participants’ (a) implementation of behaviour strategies and long-term outcomes, (b) perceptions regarding the optimal structure of FBLIs, and (c) insights into psychological concepts that may explain the success of these programs. Methods Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. We conducted focus groups as well as one-to-one interviews with parents (n = 53) and children (n = 50; aged 7–13, M = 9.4 yr, SD = 3.1) three months following their involvement in a 10-week, multi-component, FBLI involving education and activities relating to healthy nutrition, physical activity, and behavior modification. Using an interpretivist approach, a qualitative study design was employed to examine participant experiences. Results We identified three higher-order categories: (a) participants’ program experiences and perceptions (b) lifestyle changes post-program, and (c) recommendations for optimizing family-based programs. Themes identified within these categories included (a) support and structure & content, (b) diet and physical activity, and (c) in-program recommendations and post-program recommendations. Conclusions We identified several challenges that can impair lasting behavior change (e.g., physical activity participation) following involvement in a FBLI. On optimizing these programs, participants emphasized fun, interactive content, interpersonal support, appropriate educational content, and behavior change techniques. Concepts rooted in motivational theory could help address calls for greater theoretical and mechanistic insight in FBLIs. Findings may support research advancement and assist health professionals to more consistently realize the potential of these interventions.

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