Perceptions of a family-based lifestyle intervention for children with overweight and obesity: a qualitative study on sustainability, self-regulation, and program optimization

Putter, Kaila C., Jackson, Ben, Thornton, Ashleigh L., Willis, Claire E., Goh, Kong Min Bryce, Beauchamp, Mark R., Benjanuvatra, Nat, Dimmock, James A., and Budden, Timothy (2022) Perceptions of a family-based lifestyle intervention for children with overweight and obesity: a qualitative study on sustainability, self-regulation, and program optimization. BMC Public Health, 22 (1). 1534.

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Background: Family-based lifestyle interventions (FBLIs) are an important method for treating childhood weight problems. Despite being recognized as an effective intervention method, the optimal structure of these interventions for children’s overweight and obesity has yet to be determined. Our aim was to better understand participants’ (a) implementation of behaviour strategies and long-term outcomes, (b) perceptions regarding the optimal structure of FBLIs, and (c) insights into psychological concepts that may explain the success of these programs.

Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. We conducted focus groups as well as one-to-one interviews with parents (n = 53) and children (n = 50; aged 7–13, M = 9.4 yr, SD = 3.1) three months following their involvement in a 10-week, multi-component, FBLI involving education and activities relating to healthy nutrition, physical activity, and behavior modification. Using an interpretivist approach, a qualitative study design was employed to examine participant experiences.

Results: We identified three higher-order categories: (a) participants’ program experiences and perceptions (b) lifestyle changes post-program, and (c) recommendations for optimizing family-based programs. Themes identified within these categories included (a) support and structure & content, (b) diet and physical activity, and (c) in-program recommendations and post-program recommendations.

Conclusions: We identified several challenges that can impair lasting behavior change (e.g., physical activity participation) following involvement in a FBLI. On optimizing these programs, participants emphasized fun, interactive content, interpersonal support, appropriate educational content, and behavior change techniques. Concepts rooted in motivational theory could help address calls for greater theoretical and mechanistic insight in FBLIs. Findings may support research advancement and assist health professionals to more consistently realize the potential of these interventions.

Item ID: 76356
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2458
Keywords: Childhood obesity, Family, Motivation, Physical activity, Treatment, Weight loss
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2022 00:33
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 50%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200411 Overweight and obesity @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200203 Health education and promotion @ 50%
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