Combating child obesity: Impact of HENRY on parenting and family lifestyle

T. A. Willis, J. George, C. Hunt, K. P.J. Roberts, C. E.L. Evans, R. E. Brown, M. C.J. Rudolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: One-quarter of children in England are overweight/obese at school entry. We investigated the impact of a programme designed to provide parents of infants and preschool children with the skills required for a healthier family lifestyle. Method: A cohort of families was followed across the 8-week HENRY (Health Exercise Nutrition for the Really Young) parent course at nine locations in England. Seventy-seven parents enrolled on the course, of which 71 agreed to complete questionnaires addressing eating behaviours, dietary intake and parental self-efficacy. Pre- and post-course data was available from 60 (84.5%) parents (8-week follow-up data from 58 parents) and was analysed using repeated measures analyses. Results: Significant changes were observed, with most sustained at follow-up. Parents reported increased self-efficacy and ability to encourage good behaviour (P < 0.001). Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables was reported in both children and adults, together with reduced consumption of sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks in adults (all P < 0.01). There were also positive changes in eating behaviours (e.g. frequency of family mealtimes and eating while watching television or in response to negative emotion [ P < 0.01] ) and reduced screen time in adults (P < 0.001). Discussion: The results build upon earlier evaluation, indicating that the HENRY intervention has a beneficial impact upon the families of infants and preschool children. Furthermore, the findings suggest that positive changes inspired by the programme can be maintained beyond its completion. Such changes may serve to protect against later obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-350
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 The Authors Pediatric Obesity © 2013 International Association for the Study of Obesity.


  • Childhood obesity
  • Obesity prevention
  • Parental self-efficacy
  • Preschool children


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