Most childhood obesity prevention programs focus on older children, despite the fact that more than half of children with overweight or obesity became overweight before the age of 2.
The study, "A Home Visiting Parenting Program and Child Obesity: A Randomized Trial," published in the February 2018 Pediatrics (published online Jan. 16), shows that children from families who received a home visiting intervention were significantly less likely to be obese at age 2. A total 158 first-time mothers who lived in medically underserved communities received home visits by a social worker and pediatric nurse on a recommended visit schedule including weekly visits from the third trimester of pregnancy until the child's first birthday and bi-weekly through the child's second birthday.
Researchers found that at age 2, 78.3 percent of children who received home visits were at a healthy weight, compared to 63.6 percent in the control group. They found 19.7 percent of children in the control group were obese, compared to 3.3 percent of children who received the visits. Researchers concluded that more research is needed, but home visits could be effective in reducing obesity rates in at-risk populations.