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Effect of a Low-Intensity Parent-Focused Nutrition Intervention on Dietary Intake of 2- to 5-Year Olds

Duncanson, Kerith*; Burrows, Tracy*; Collins, Clare

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: December 2013 - Volume 57 - Issue 6 - p 728–734
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000068
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objectives: Community-based nutrition interventions aimed at influencing child dietary intake are rarely evaluated. We hypothesised that providing self-directed nutrition and parenting resources to parents living in rural northern New South Wales, Australia, would positively affect the dietary patterns of children ages 2 to 5 years.

Methods: A total of 146 parent–child dyads (76 boys, ages 2.0–5.9 years) were randomly assigned to either a 12-month parent-centred intervention involving self-directed education provided in CD and DVD formats, or a participant-blinded control group who received generic nutrition and physical activity information. Data were collected at baseline, 3, and 12 months.

Results: Total reported energy from nutrient-dense food groups and percentage energy from energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods were high at baseline relative to estimated total energy expenditure for child age. Using random effects modelling, there were significant group-by-time effects for a reduction in mean (standard deviation) total energy intake (EI) at 12 months (−461 kJ/day (196); P = 0.04). An intervention group-by-time effect on carbohydrate intake (−17.4 g/day (10.6); P < 0.05) was largely attributable to decreased consumption of breads and cereals (−180 g/day (80); P = 0.007). Decreases in energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The proportion of total EI from noncore foods in children in rural New South Wales is high and did not improve in response to a low-intensity nutrition intervention. Parents reported small changes in consumption frequency for core and noncore food intakes, leading to a reduction in total EI. Strategies to increase resource use such as prompting via e-mail are required to further explore the effectiveness of nutrition resource dissemination at a population level.

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*School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health

Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Kerith Duncanson, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales 2308, Australia (e-mail:

Received 22 January, 2013

Accepted 2 July, 2013

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The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,