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Parental behaviors that impede children from paying attention to their own cues of fullness can promote obesity in children. Family focused prevention programs are valuable because these programs have the ability to promote better parenting behaviors that lead to the development of better child eating patterns. Recently interest in delivering such programs online has increased. However, numerous challenges arise in applying such programs to low-income, minority participants. Parenting content was developed to add to an established nutrition education program for low-income families. Eating Smart • Being Active is a nutrition education program used across the US by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Our objective will be to describe the process used to develop videos, games, activities, and infographics as part of parenting content delivered online to low-income parents of children (ages 2 to 8 years).
The process of developing program materials was guided by self-determination theory. Parenting strategies were embedded in the final materials including: tips for grocery shopping with children; feeding practices encouraging acceptance of new foods; determining child portions; ways to support internal child cues of fullness; instituting mealtime routines; awareness of cues to eat in the outside environment; and identifying parent and child feeding roles. Online videos, games, activities, and infographics were formatted to be viewed through smartphones (English and Spanish).
Challenges came to light during piloting of the online program. We addressed these challenges by: developing a user-friendly interface; providing clear instructions and processes for low-income parents to access online materials; ensuring effective communication between participants, in-class educators, and online facilitators; and tracking participant involvement and engagement.
Conclusion and Implications
Specific ways we addressed the multiple challenges in developing and implementing the online program will be described. Preliminary data from our randomized control trial conducted in six EFNEP regions across Colorado and Washington with 550 low-income parents will be presented.