Parents and tots together: Pilot randomized controlled trial of a family-based obesity prevention intervention in Canada

Kathryn Walton, A. Jordan Filion, Deborah Gross, Barbara Morrongiello, Gerarda Darlington, Janis Randall Simpson, Sharon Hou, Jess Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To test the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary impact of Parents and Tots Together (PTT), a family-based obesity prevention intervention, in Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Canadian parents of preschoolers (aged 2-5 years). SETTING: Ontario Early Years centres in southwestern Ontario. INTERVENTION: A pilot randomized controlled trial involving 48 parents who received either the PTT intervention (n = 27) or an attention-matched control home safety intervention (n = 21). To evaluate the feasibility of PTT, we assessed participant retention and outcome evaluation completion rates. To evaluate acceptability, we assessed program attendance and parents’ responses to program satisfaction surveys. To evaluate preliminary impact, we assessed children’s body mass index (BMI) at baseline, after intervention (end of 9-week intervention) and at 9-month follow-up. As well, at each time point, parents completed surveys assessing stress and self-efficacy related to parenting, children’s sleep, activity, TV viewing and diet. OUTCOMES: Retention rates were high in the intervention (93%) and control (84%) study arms, and 87% of parents reported that they would highly recommend PTT to a friend. At 9-month follow-up, intervention parents reported lower parenting stress (β = 15.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] −29.57, −2.07, p = 0.02) and greater self-efficacy in managing their child’s behaviour (β = 0.16, 95% CI 0.002, 0.33, p = 0.05) than control parents. PTT had minimal influence on children’s weight-related behaviours and BMI. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that PTT can feasibly be implemented and tested in the Canadian context. Preliminary impact results suggest that the program may be effective in changing general parenting; however, program content should be modified to adequately address children’s weight-related behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e555-e562
JournalCanadian Journal of Public Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Childhood
  • Family-based intervention
  • Obesity prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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