An intervention that has been shown to help first parents prevent obesity in children has found spillover effects in second-born babies as well, even without further parenting education. The results come from a study funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The intervention, known as responsive parenting, teaches parents how to be constructive with their child during feeding, bedtime, and play. Responsive parenting can be an important strategy for families to prevent childhood obesity and a powerful tool in promoting healthy growth in children. The study, called SIBSIGHT, was published in Obesity on December 21st.
SIBSIGHT followed a responsive parent intervention with first parents called Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Health Trajectories (INSIGHT). INSIGHT was a randomized controlled trial that aimed to reduce unhealthy, rapid weight gain in infancy to prevent childhood obesity. INSIGHT found that after completing the three-year study, children in the parenting group had a healthier body mass index (BMI) compared to those in the control group and significantly lower overweight or obesity rates in the parenting group had to control group.
INSIGHT is now the first pediatric obesity prevention educational intervention that shows a spillover effect on future children. In the United States, over 13% of children ages 2 to 5 years are obese, a number that increases as the children get older.
SIBSIGHT’s findings are promising because the information reaches parents at the optimal time, in the first few months of life and now even before a subsequent pregnancy. SIBSIGHT shows the potential long-term value of this strategy for preventing obesity in children. “
Dr. Voula Osganian, NIDDK program director for clinical obesity in children
In the SIBSIGHT observational study, 117 firstborn babies participating in INSIGHT and their siblings were monitored for one year. The first and second children whose parents received the responsive parental intervention had a statistically significant difference in BMI compared to the children in the control group, with the BMI being 0.44 and 0.36 units lower, or about 2.5, respectively % Weight difference was.
“The continued benefit of responsive parenting training is remarkable, since parents of second children did not receive any INSIGHT booster message messages in the pure observational evaluation,” said Dr. Jennifer S. Williams, lead author and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at. from Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
First-time parents who were placed in the responsive parenting group during the INSIGHT study were trained in how to respond to their child’s needs in four behaviors: eating, sleeping, interactive play, and emotional regulation. This group also learned strategies on how to get infants sleepy but awake to bed and avoid feeding infants to sleep; anticipate and respond when infants wake up at night; when to introduce solid foods; how to use growth charts; and how to limit sitting time. The control group received home security intervention. Both groups received four home visits from a research nurse in infancy, followed by three annual visits to a research center.
“The vast majority of parents have multiple children, so a parenting strategy that can be taught once and then benefits subsequent children can be a way forward to curb the growing problem of child obesity,” said Osganian.
At 12 months of age, the benefits in the second children were similar to the first children. The researchers conclude that INSIGHT training prevented the use of unresponsive feeding practices and helped establish consistent feeding routines in second siblings.
“A child’s first few months are a critical time for parents and health care providers to intervene and promote healthy behavior and growth, and the results of INSIGHT and SIBSIGHT show us one possible way to do this effectively,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “Early and long-term obesity prevention strategies help our children prepare for a healthy future.”