Doctor of Philosophy
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Dr. Jennifer D. Irwin
The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a detailed overview of, findings from, and experiences participating in a 3-month randomized controlled trial (RCT) targeting obesity-related behaviours in parents with overweight/obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 25 kg/m2) and their children (2.5-10 years old, any weight; N = 50 dyads). A concurrent mixed methods study comprised of an RCT and descriptive qualitative design was utilized. Parent-participants received Co-Active Life Coaching (CALC) and webinar-based health education (intervention) or education only (control). To address the dissertation’s purpose, Chapter II provides a detailed methodological account of the program, including rationale and a description of utilized measures. Chapter III depicts a study exploring the impact of the program on the primary outcomes of physical activity (PA) and dietary intake of parents and children, parental motivation to engage in healthy behaviours, and parental perceptions of program improvements. To determine anthropometric impacts, parental BMI and waist circumference were included. Quantitative results were not statistically significant; however, decrease in sodium intake in intervention group parents showed a trend toward significance (p = 0.04) from baseline to 6-month follow-up. Qualitatively, parents in both groups reported increased awareness of health behaviours, diet and PA improvements, and positive program experiences. Some parents felt the webinars were reminders about healthy habits, whereas others felt the information was new and important. Finally, to understand both client and coach perspectives, and what might be needed to maximize this behaviour change approach, Chapter IV presents a qualitative exploration of the experiences of parents and coaches in the intervention group. Parents reported increased accountability for their behaviours, learning how to effectively set goals, working through root causes of their behaviours, and changing their perspectives. Coaches provided information on tools/techniques they most commonly used, insights into working with this population, and advice for future coaches. The findings from this study will allow researchers, coaches, and participants to better understand the foundations for a strong coaching partnership in the context of obesity-related health behaviour changes. Together, these chapters represent the first (to the researchers’ knowledge) CALC and/or health education intervention for parents with overweight/obesity and their children.
Summary for Lay Audience
Obesity – which may cause physical, emotional, economical, and social complications – is linked with eating high-fat and high-sugar foods, and physical inactivity. Obesity developed during childhood can produce lifelong difficulties (e.g. poor self-esteem, heart diseases, type-2 diabetes). Because children learn through observation, parents and the home environment are important in shaping children’s health: parents model and promote healthy behaviours to their children. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to provide an overview of, findings from, and experiences of parents with overweight/obesity (and their children, ages 2.5-10, of any weight) participating in a 3-month program targeting physical activity (PA) and nutrition behaviours. Fifty parent-child pairs were recruited and randomly assigned to an intervention group (coaching and webinar-based health education sessions) or a control group (health education sessions only). Chapter II details the methods used for this research. Chapter III explains the program’s impact on PA and dietary intake of parents and children, parental motivation to engage in healthy behaviours, and parental perceptions of program improvements. To understand changes in parental body composition over the duration of this program, height, weight, and waist-circumference were measured. Based on numerical data, there were no meaningful changes or differences in behaviours between groups or over time. In-person interviews revealed that parents in both groups reported increased awareness of health behaviours, improvements in diet and PA, and positive program experiences. Some parents felt the webinars reminded them about healthy living; others felt the information was relevant, which led to behaviour changes. Parents who received coaching, and their coaches, were interviewed to better understand their experiences in the program, as well as how best to design future obesity-targeted programs. Chapter IV outlines these perspectives: Parents reported feeling accountable, learned goal-setting, addressed root causes of their behaviours, and changed their perspectives. Coaches outlined commonly used tools/techniques, insights about this population, and advice for future coaches. Findings from this study will teach researchers, coaches, and participants about what supports a strong coach-client relationship, which may result in behaviour change; and to the researchers’ knowledge, is the first to evaluate coaching and/or education on parents with overweight/obesity and their children.
Karmali, Shazya, "A Coaching and/or Education Intervention Targeting Physical Activity and Nutrition Behaviours in Parents with Overweight/obesity and their Children" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6841.
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