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Obesity intervention programme improves early feeding patterns

28 Oct 2019

An intervention trial aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity in early age, PROBIT (PRevention of OBesity In Toddlers), appears to have failed, although it has produced improvements in early feeding patterns.

PROBIT involved 252 newborns whose parents were offered an educational programme from the child’s birth to the age of 2 years (intervention arm) and 216 newborns whose parents did not undergo the programme (control arm). In the intervention arm, the parents received oral and written information about protective behaviours, with emphasis on responsive feeding.

At the age of 2 years, the prevalence of obesity was lower by 35 percent in the intervention vs control arm, but the difference was not statistically significant (8.7 percent vs 13.4 percent; p=0.10). The prevalence of overweight/obesity was similar in the two arms (26.8 percent vs 28.3 percent; p=0.49), as was the number of children watching television for at least 30 minutes per day or consuming sweetened beverages (p-all>0.05).

At the age of 3 months, significantly more infants in the intervention than in the control arm were fed on demand (93 percent vs 80 percent; p<0.001). Infants in the intervention arm were also longer than those in the control arm (60.7 vs 60.0 cm; p=0.002), but no significant between-group difference was seen in body weight or the weight/length ratio.

The findings show that the delivery of an educational programme centred on the routine paediatric follow-up visits by a public healthcare system is well accepted by families and promotes the adoption of protective feeding behaviours during the first year of life, researchers said.

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