Infant feeding practices, including breastfeeding, best practice bottle feeding, age of introduction of solids and diet quality are important in affecting healthy weight gain in infancy and later in childhood and adulthood. Indigenous children and those from low socio-economic backgrounds have significantly higher rates of obesity, making early intervention a priority in these groups. One emerging and promising area involves providing support for healthy parenting through electronic media such as the Internet or smart phones (m-Health interventions). Such approaches are yet to be tested in the area of child obesity prevention.
The Growing Healthy program is a new app, website and online forum providing parents with a ‘one-stop shop' for trustworthy advice and tips on infant feeding in the first 9 months of life. The aim of the program is to:
Parents will receive 2-3 messages a week relevant to the age of their baby with links to more information on the app/website. The development of the program has been informed by literature reviews as well as interviews and focus groups with parents and PHC staff.
The growing healthy study will pilot test the app with 150-200 parents across three PHC settings: 1) maternal and child health services in Victoria 2) general practices in NSW 3) an Indigenous health service and will be evaluated for: the feasibility of referring parents to the program and reinforcing key messages as part of routine baby health checks and the effectiveness of the program in terms of reach, use, acceptability, cost and impact on key infant nutrition and feeding outcomes?
This study will provide important new information about the feasibility and effectiveness of a novel m-Health intervention delivered through primary health care on nutrition and obesity risk in low socio-economic status and indigenous families.