Healthy Beginnings Trial: the journey from the beginning (#3)
Australia’s obesity epidemic continues to be one of the major health burdens in society, which has had a direct flow-on effect to our younger generation. About one in five children aged 2-3 years now are either overweight or obese – highlighting the need for early intervention. To evaluate the effectiveness of an early obesity intervention, the Healthy Beginnings Trial has been conducted with 667 first-time mothers in South West Sydneyover the past 5 years. It was a randomised controlled trial which has attracted two lots of NHMRC funding totalling $1.2 million.
The intervention group received 8 home visits from a specially trained community nurse who delivered the staged intervention, which comprised one home visit at gestational age 30-36 weeks, and 7 visits at 1, 3, 5, 9, 12, 15 and 24 months after birth. The timing of the visits corresponds to early childhood development milestones. The main outcomes included children’s body mass index (BMI), infant feeding practices, and television viewing time when children were 2 years of age.
The results show that the Healthy Beginnings intervention led, at age 2 years, to significant reduction in BMI and television viewing time, and also improvements in vegetable consumption. The mothers involved also showed a significant improvement in their rates of breastfeeding, while also reducing the proportion of mothers who introduced solids before six months. The intervention also had a significant effect on participating mothers’ own healthy lifestyles. These results from the trial were published in BMJ 2012 (http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e3732). The sustainability assessment and economic evaluation of the Healthy Beginnings Trial are currently underway and will be completed by mid 2014. More intonation about Healthy Beginnings Trial can be found at http://healthybeginnings.net.au/