A cluster randomised controlled trial of a telephone-based intervention targeting the home food environment of preschoolers (The Healthy Habits Trial): the effect on parent fruit and vegetable consumption

Background:
The home food environment is an important setting for the development of dietary patterns in childhood. Interventions that support parents to modify the home food environment for their children, however, may also improve parent diet. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a telephone-based intervention targeting the home food environment of preschool children on the fruit and vegetable consumption of parents.
Methods:
In 2010, 394 parents of 3–5 year–old children from 30 preschools in the Hunter region of Australia were recruited to this cluster randomised controlled trial and were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. Intervention group parents received four weekly 30-minute telephone calls and written resources. The scripted calls focused on; fruit and vegetable availability and accessibility, parental role-modelling, and supportive home food routines. Two items from the Australian National Nutrition Survey were used to assess the average number of serves of fruit and vegetables consumed each day by parents at baseline, and 2-, 6-, 12-, and 18-months later, using generalised estimating equations (adjusted for baseline values and clustering by preschool) and an intention-to-treat-approach.
Results:
At each follow-up, vegetable consumption among intervention parents significantly exceeded that of controls. At 2-months the difference was 0.71 serves (95% CI: 0.58-0.85, p < 0.0001), and at 18-months the difference was 0.36 serves (95% CI: 0.10-0.61, p = 0.0067). Fruit consumption among intervention parents was found to significantly exceed consumption of control parents at the 2-,12- and 18-month follow-up, with the difference at 2-months being 0.26 serves (95% CI: 0.12-0.40, p = 0.0003), and 0.26 serves maintained at 18-months, (95% CI: 0.10-0.43, p = 0.0015).
Conclusions:
A four-contact telephone-based intervention that focuses on changing characteristics of preschoolers’ home food environment can increase parents’ fruit and vegetable consumption.(ANZCTR12609000820202)

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