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Pilot survey of a novel incentive to promote healthy behavior among school children and their parents


Reversing the obesity epidemic has been a persistent global public health challenge, particularly among low socioeconomic status populations and racial/ethnic minorities. We developed a novel concept of community-based incentives to approach this problem in such communities. Applying this concept, we proposed a school intervention to promote obesity prevention in the U.S. We conducted a pilot survey to explore attitudes towards this future intervention. The survey was collected as a nonprobability sample (N = 137 school-aged children (5-12 years)) in northern California in July 2013. We implemented multivariable logistic regression analyses where the dependent variable indicated the intention to participate in the future intervention. The covariates included the body mass index (BMI) based weight categories, demographics, and others. We found that the future intervention is expected to motivate generally-high-risk populations (such as children and parents who have never joined a past health-improvement program compared to those who have completed a past health-improvement program (the odds-ratio (OR) = 5.84, p < 0.05) and children with an obese/overweight parent (OR = 2.72, p < 0.05 compared to those without one)) to participate in future obesity-prevention activities. Our analyses also showed that some subgroups of high-risk populations, such as Hispanic children (OR = 0.27, p < 0.05) and children eligible for a free or reduced price meal program (OR = 0.37, p < 0.06), remain difficult to reach and need an intensive outreach activity for the future intervention. The survey indicated high interest in the future school intervention among high-risk parents who have never joined a past health-improvement program or are obese/overweight. These findings will help design and implement a future intervention.

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