The effectiveness of a parent-based education program in promoting healthy lifestyles and controlling body weight for primary school students

Sze Wan LO

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Background: Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that may affect children until their adulthood. Prevalence of childhood obesity found in Hong Kong has increased significantly. Childhood obesity is believed to be to associate with unhealthy behaviour; therefore, different programs have been conducted previously to promote healthy lifestyle behaviour. So far, the effectiveness of these programs is still controversial. As a parent is an agent having great impact on children, the purpose of the present study was to design a parent-based childhood obesity program, and the effectiveness of this program was assessed.

Design: A randomized, controlled trial, including pre- and post-intervention assessment to examine the effects of a comprehensive intervention program comparing the control condition of a parent’s self-efficacy in managing problem behaviour of children.
Subjects: 128 pairs of primary school students and parents in Hong Kong were recruited to participate in a “Healthy for Life” program.
Duration: The 20-week program included 10 weeks of intervention and a maintenance period of 10 weeks.
Intervention: Participants were randomly divided into an intervention group (n=62) and a control group (n=54). In the intervention group, parents were given education on health knowledge, information on childhood obesity and parenting skills strategies for managing obesity-related problem behaviour of children. In addition, they received a health information sheet nine times during the intervention period. Parents were recommended to use such knowledge and skills to control the body weight of children through modifying children’s unhealthy lifestyle behaviour in the intervention period. In the control group, parents received several health information sheets during the intervention period only.
Outcome measures: Parents were asked to complete the “Lifestyle Behaviour Checklist” to assess the problem level and their confidence level in managing the child’s behaviour. Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and weight status of children were measured at baseline, at week 10, week 15 and week 20 after the baseline.

Result: There were no significant differences on parent’s self-efficacy (the problem level and the confidence level) in managing the obesity-related problem behaviour of children between the two groups. However, parents reported the significant improvement on their confidence level in managing children’s obesity-related behaviour (physical activity). One hundred and seven (107) children completed all anthropometric measurements. There was no difference of changing children’s BMI, waist circumference and weight status of children between the intervention group and the control group. Regarding anthropometric measure changes within groups, the intervention group had a better effect in changing the BMI between baseline and post-intervention, between baseline and 10-week follow up, as well as between post-intervention and 5-week follow up stages.

Conclusion: The program had an effect on alleviating parent’s confidence in managing children’s behaviour related to physical activity. No significant effect on reduction of BMI in the intervention group was found, and it could be maintained in the period of 10-week follow up. However, no significant effect was found on changing waist circumferences between groups. Unfortunately, a short study period and few teaching sessions may be the cause of insignificant outcomes. Future studies may design a longitudinal study (more than 1 year) and consider providing intensive teaching sessions to enhance the power of a study. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • SUN, Fenghua 孫風華, Supervisor
  • LO, Sing Kai 盧成皆, Supervisor
  • CHENG, Lai Sheung Winnie, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Children
  • Parents
  • Obesity
  • Alt. title: 【健康為本】計劃是否對於改善不良生活習慣及控制學童體重有效
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2019.


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