Childhood obesity is a serious public health epidemic in most industrialized countries, particularly among people with lower socio-economic background. The rise in childhood obesity in the past decades has been explained by the “obesogenic” and “toxic” effects of the current modern environment. Young children are dependent of their parents, the most important caregivers. Parents are therefore important agents of change determining the home environment through their parenting and own weight-related behaviors. Recently more intervention studies have focused on early childhood obesity prevention in the home/family environment. However, most family-based interventions only focus on diet and physical activity, neglecting eminent risk factors such as sleep and media use. Moreover, most previous intervention studies were limited to children aged 2-5 years, while the period before 2 years of age may already be a critical window for obesity prevention. To address these gaps, the current study developed and tested an (mHealth) program (i.e., Samen Happie; ‘Together Happy’) for early childhood obesity prevention. We aim to change parenting practices with respect to all relevant weight-related behaviors (i.e., diet, physical activity, media use and sleep) among parents from mostly lower SES-background through the Samen Happie app and group meetings. We used a standardized Intervention Mapping (IM) framework for effective decision making at each step in intervention planning. As such, our intervention program is based on theory, empirical findings from the literature, and data collected from a population. The program will be evaluated in two different studies with in total more than 500 participants (data collection has been nearly been finished): One study in parents of young children below age 2 receiving the ‘Together Happy’ app and another study in parents of toddlers (2-4 years old) receiving the app and additional group meetings for parents. The intervention among parents of toddlers contained additional parental group meetings on ‘general parenting’, being an eminent contextual factor and potential moderator of the impact of specific weight-related parenting practices on children’s eating behavior and obesity risk.

Start – end date

May 2015 – July 2020

Funding Source

Fonds NutsOhra

Coordinating organisation Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University
Name  Levie Karssen & Junilla Larsen
E-mail  l.karssen@bsi.ru.nl  j.larsen@bsi.ru.nl
Website www.samenhappie.nl