The HEROs Study Year 2: Engaging Families to Promote Healthy Eating And Activity Behaviors in Early Childhood


      The objective of the HEROs Study (HEalthy EnviROnments Study) is to develop a companion, technology-based, interactive family intervention to assess the potential amplification of The Food Friends programs to promote healthy lifestyles and weight outcomes for young children in both Head Start and family settings.


      The project aims to improve family routines and parent-child eating and physical activity (PA) interactions. Research activities will be conducted in 3 phases: formative research; intervention development; and an intervention efficacy study.


      Year 2 focused on Formative Research. Parents provided input on: preschoolers’ mobile device use (n=191 technology surveys); beliefs and patterns of child mobile device use and feasibility of using mobile devices to deliver preschooler nutrition and PA education (n=29 telephone interviews); family mealtime and PA routines (ecocultural family interviews, EFI, n=16 to date). Additional data will be collected on parental beliefs and practices related to PA (face-to-face interviews); observed maternal and child dietary intake at dinnertime (Remote Food Photography Methodology); and mealtime environment and practices (mini-focus groups).

      Conclusions and Implications

      Parents of preschoolers in rural Colorado often use technology and respond favorably to the concept of mobile apps to improve children’s school readiness and to promote physical activity. Parents struggled to envision how apps could improve children’s nutrition and feeding behaviors. The EFIs conducted thus far suggest that parents value ideals for mealtime and PA, but also express high stress levels and desire effective, fun and low pressure strategies to reduce mealtime and PA challenges.



      Supplementary data