Competency-Based Approaches to Community Health: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Childhood Obesity among Latino Preschool-Aged Children

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Childhood obesity


Background: Health behavior change interventions that target childhood obesity in minority populations have led to inconsistent and short-lived results. The purpose of this study was to test a novel intervention that was personalized and family-based in a Latino population to reduce childhood obesity. Methods: Competency-Based Approaches to Community Health (COACH) was a randomized controlled trial. Latino parent-child pairs were recruited from community settings in Nashville, TN. Child eligibility criteria included age 3-5 years and a BMI ≥50th percentile. The intervention included 15 weekly, 90-minute sessions followed by 3 months of twice-monthly health coaching calls. The control group was a twice-monthly school readiness curriculum for 3 months. Sessions were conducted by a health coach in local community centers, with groups of 8-11 parent-child pairs. The primary outcome was child BMI trajectory across 12 months, measured at four times. The intervention's effect was assessed by using a longitudinal, linear mixed-effects growth model, adjusting for child gender, baseline child and parent age, and baseline parent BMI and education. Results: Of the 305 parent-child pairs assessed for eligibility, 117 were randomized (59 intervention, 58 control). Child BMI was available for 91.5% at 1-year follow-up. Mean baseline child age was 4.2 [standard deviation (SD) = 0.8] years, and 53.8% of children were female. Mean baseline child BMI was 18.1 (SD = 2.6) kg/m2. After adjusting for covariates, the intervention's effect on linear child BMI growth was -0.41 kg/m2 per year (95% confidence interval -0.82 to 0.01; p = 0.05). Conclusions: Over 1-year follow-up, the intervention resulted in slower linear BMI growth for Latino preschool-aged children from poverty.

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