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Healthy feeding habits: a home-visit, controlled exploratory study of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents of pre-school aged children
DOI 10.1186/ISRCTN09910187
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier
EudraCT number
Public title Healthy feeding habits: a home-visit, controlled exploratory study of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents of pre-school aged children
Scientific title Healthy feeding habits: a cluster-randomized controlled exploratory trial of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents of pre-school aged children.
Acronym N/A
Serial number at source 0521/003
Study hypothesis Habit theory was used as a framework to help parents adopt three healthy feeding behaviors (offering fruit or vegetables, serving healthy snacks, serving water instead of sweetened beverages). The hypothesis for this pilot trial was that there would be significantly greater increases in the subjective automaticity of the three parental feeding behaviors in the intervention group (i.e. habit strength), and significant increases in the child’s intake of fruit and vegetables, snacks and drinks in the intervention group compared to controls.

Please note that as of 11/02/2013, the following changes were made to the trial record:
1. The public title was previously "Healthy feeding habits: a home-visit, controlled pilot study of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents of pre-school aged children"
2. The scientific title was previously "Healthy feeding habits: a cluster-randomized controlled pilot trial of a novel, habit-based intervention with parents of pre-school aged children."
Lay summary Background and study aims:
Parents are often the target of family-based dietary programmes as they are the dietary gatekeepers for young children. However, very few programmes use theory to promote behaviour change. Forming healthy habits could be one approach to improving the feeding habits of parents with pre-school aged children. This is based on the idea that repeating a behaviour in a certain situation over and over, will help to form new habits. This study assessed how effective this programme is in promoting healthy habits for three parental feeding behaviours (serving fruit/vegetables, healthy snacks, and non-sweet drinks).

Who can participate?
Parents of pre-school children.

What does the study involve?
Parents being visited at home four times by a researcher to discuss creating healthy habits and setting a new healthy habit each time relating to how they feed their child.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The benefits of taking part are potential dietary improvements for both parents and children. There are no known risks of participating in this study.

Where is the study run from?
University College London, UK

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study began in May 2010 and ended in January 2012.

Who is funding the study?
Cancer Research UK

Who is the main contact?
Laura McGowan
Ethics approval University College London Ethics Committee, 01 April 2010, ref: 0521/003
Study design Cluster randomised controlled exploratory trial
Countries of recruitment United Kingdom
Disease/condition/study domain Public Health, Obesity Prevention
Participants - inclusion criteria Parents with a child aged between 2-5 years and were motivated to take part.
Participants - exclusion criteria Parents with a child that had a serious medical condition which meant they had a severely restricted diet.
Anticipated start date 01/05/2010
Anticipated end date 01/01/2012
Status of trial Completed
Patient information material Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet
Target number of participants 106
Interventions The healthy feeding habits intervention was delivered over the course of four fortnightly visits to the family home. Each visit lasted approximately 1 hour and involved the researcher working through an intervention booklet with the parent. The child was not directly involved. The booklet introduced the concept of habits along with information on environmental support for habit-formation (e.g. sticking to a routine, consistency, persistence, and had detachable self-monitoring sheets to use during the habit acquisition phase. There were sections for each of the target feeding areas: serving fruit or vegetables, choice of snacks, and choice of drinks. Focusing on one topic at each visit, parents formulated a specific, new healthy feeding habit in relation to that aspect of their child’s diet which was in line with an overall healthy goal, i.e. increase fruit and vegetable intake, serve healthy snacks and reduce sugary drinks. At each subsequent visit, parents were encouraged to continue the previous habit(s) while introducing a new one. On the final visit, they completed the post-intervention questionnaire and a brief interview on their experience of the intervention.
Primary outcome measure(s) Parent habit strength for each new feeding behavior (measured by self-reported automaticity).
Secondary outcome measure(s) Children’s food intake and intervention acceptability
Sources of funding Cancer Research UK (UK) ref: C1418/A7974
Trial website
Publications 2013 results in: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23864536
Contact name Prof  Jane  Wardle
  Address Health Behaviour Research Centre
Department of Epidemiology & Public Health
1-19 Torrington Place
University College London
  City/town London
  Zip/Postcode WC1E 7HB
  Country United Kingdom
  Tel +44 (0)207 679 1720
  Email j.wardle@ucl.ac.uk
Sponsor University College London (UK)
  Address Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
Health Behaviour Research Centre
1-19 Torrington Place
  City/town London
  Zip/Postcode WC1E 7HB
  Country United Kingdom
  Tel +44 (0)20 7679 1720
  Email j.wardle@ucl.ac.uk
  Sponsor website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hbrc/diet/wardlej.html
Date applied 31/10/2012
Last edited 28/10/2013
Date ISRCTN assigned 22/11/2012
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