My research is exploring the use of a theoretical framework to guide the development of a health promotion app for the prevention and management of childhood obesity. As well as carrying out research with parents, my project involves working closely with a digital media company, Warwick County Council and experts in childhood obesity. I am specifically focusing on the area of health promotion and the mechanisms through which mhealth tools can reach, change and sustain health behaviour change in parents of overweight or very overweight children.
Title of PhD Project
Development of a theoretically grounded Health Promotion App for childhood weight management
Background: Despite the rapid proliferation of Smartphones accompanied by an explosion of Health Promotion Apps, many apps available appear ineffective at engaging users or achieving positive health outcomes. Studies suggest they have low adherence to evidence based guidelines and techniques. Nevertheless, the wide reach and ubiquitous nature of Smartphones offers a significant potential for tackling major public health issues such as childhood obesity where many interventions have had limited success.
Aim: To develop and pilot test a theoretically grounded Healthy Eating App to support parents with overweight children referred to existing NHS Change4Life weight management services in Warwickshire.
Methods: The Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW), a theoretically-based, comprehensive method for intervention design combined with a user centred design approach involving focus groups with local Change4Life advisors and parents of overweight and normal weight children will guide the development of the App. The final phase will involve pilot testing with families with overweight children.
Findings: Two target behaviours were selected: reduce portion sizes and increase families’ consumption of fruit and vegetables. Theoretically-based tools (COM-B and TDF) were used to understand the behaviours, e.g. recognition of children’s overweight status. The BCW was used to select appropriate intervention functions which guided the selection of appropriate behaviour change techniques (BCTs) from BCT Taxonomy (v1). The next phase involves co-design with parents to help refine key features of the App (with regards to engagement and acceptability) and pilot testing.
Implications: Findings will provide initial data on the acceptability and effectiveness of a theoretically grounded App for the management of childhood overweight and obesity.
S dot Lahiri at warwick dot ac dot uk
hsx536 at coventry dot ac dot uk