Understanding outcomes in behavior change interventions to prevent pediatric obesity: the role of dose and behavior change techniques uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Behavioral interventions to prevent pediatric obesity have shown inconsistent results across the field. Studying what happens within the "black box" of these interventions and how differences in implementation lead to different outcomes will help researchers develop more effective interventions. AIM: To compare the implementation of three features of a phone-based intervention for parents (time spent discussing weight-related behaviors, behavior change techniques used in sessions, and intervention activities implemented by parents between sessions) with study outcomes. METHODS: A random selection of 100 parent-child dyads in the intervention arm of a phone-based obesity prevention trial was included in this analysis. Sessions were coded for overall session length, length of time spent discussing specific weight-related behaviors, number of behavior change techniques used during the sessions, and number of intervention-recommended activities implemented by the parents between sessions (e.g., parent-reported implementation of behavioral practice/rehearsal between sessions). The primary study outcome, prevention of unhealthy increase in child body mass index (BMI) percentile, was measured at baseline and 12 months. RESULTS: Overall session length was associated with decreases in child BMI percentile ( b = -0.02, p = .01). There was no association between the number of behavior change techniques used in the sessions and decreases in child BMI percentile ( b = -0.29, p = .27). The number of activities the parents reported implementing between sessions was associated with decreases in child BMI percentile ( b = -1.25, p = .02). DISCUSSION: To improve future interventions, greater attention should be paid to the intended and delivered session length, and efforts should be made to facilitate parents' implementation of intervention-recommended activities between sessions (ClinicalTrials.gov, No. NCT01084590).

publication date

  • 2019