Care in the Community and at Home Preventing Childhood Obesity

Catherine Birken, The Hospital for Sick Children

Addressing obesity and mental health outcomes in toddlers at risk: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial comparing usual care to group-based parenting and home visits in primary care.


  • Childhood obesity is an urgent pediatric issue, and parents and doctors in Ontario have identified obesity prevention as one of the top five research priorities for children. A strategy that aims to prevent childhood obesity through primary care may have broad impact, since most children in Ontario visit their doctor many times in the first 3 years of life.


  • This project will determine whether a highly promising primary care-based intervention combining group-based parenting skills training and nurse home visits with a focus on healthy nutrition, activity and sleep will lead to improved weight status in 1.5 to 3 year-old children. Combining the best available evidence for childhood obesity prevention with existing primary health care and public health resources in Ontario may lead to an effective provincial strategy for childhood obesity prevention.

Patient engagement

  • To capture the perspectives of parents and clinicians in Ontario on pediatric preventive care, an online questionnaire was circulated to parents of children aged 0-5 years through TARGet Kids!, as well as to pediatricians and family physicians through the Ontario Medical Association.
  • Forty-two clinicians and 115 parents helped to prioritize obesity prevention, advancing parenting skills, and mental health promotion for early childhood as critical health needs. A consensus workshop using the Nominal Group Technique ranked the top 10 most important unanswered research questions.
  • Parents were recruited through TARGet Kids! to be on a Citizen’s Panel to review and provide feedback on the study protocol, recruitment methods, quality of the intervention, overall conduct of the trial, and address issues of access, and other barriers to participation. The Citizen’s Panel will meet virtually twice at the start of the project as well as at the end of the project when they will review project findings and the dissemination plan.