Counseling to Prevent Obesity Among Preschool Children

The Family Assessment of Initial Risk (FLAIR) pilot intervention facilitated cooperation between physicians and parents in the ongoing effort to reduce obesity risk among inner-city minority children.

Obesity has a disproportionate affect on inner-city minority children. Family members and physicians are integral to the prevention of childhood obesity. However, primary care physicians have yet to define their role in changing unhealthy behaviors among inner-city families.

FLAIR, a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Precription for Health program, reinforces the role of primary care physicians in reducing obesity risk. Parents and physicians together create goals to change family behaviors that put children at risk for obesity. In addition, parents receive behavioral change counseling. The FLAIR pilot intervention tested the program in tjree hospital-affiliated primary care health centers in the Bronx, New York.

This article brings forth responses that parents gave during focus group evaluations of the FLAIR pilot intervention. Parents expressed their feelings about all aspects of the intervention. This report groups responses under several headings, including: fear of being judged, focusing on family, physician-facilitated goal setting, and facilitating behavior change in the urban context. Each section includes direct quotations from the focus group transcripts.

Key Findings:

  • Parents praised the lifestyle counseling they received and said they would recommend it to other families.
  • Most families reported that they had made lifestyle and dietary changes because of the advice of physicians and counselors.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded FLAIR, one of 10 initiatives a part of Prescription for Health, designed to change unhealthy behaviors, to strengthen the role of primary care in reducing obesity risk. Focus groups suggest that FLAIR altered unhealthy behaviors among the families of inner-city minority children.