As overweight continues to rise among children, schools seek effective and sensitive ways to engage parents in promoting healthy weight.
To evaluate a school-based health report card on the family awareness of and concern about the child weight status, plans for weight control, and preventive behaviors.
Quasi-experimental field trial with a personalized weight and fitness health report card intervention (PI), a general-information intervention (GI), and a control group (CG). Outcomes were assessed using a postintervention telephone survey, including process and outcome measures.
The intervention included 1396 ethnically diverse students at 4 elementary schools in an urban area. Telephone surveys were completed by 399 families from an evaluation sample of 793.
Families were randomly assigned to the PI, GI, or CG and mailed intervention materials. The CG was mailed GI materials after the survey.
Main Outcome Measures
Parent awareness of child weight status, concerns, weight-control plans, and preventive behaviors. Group effects were significantly different by the child's weight status, so results were stratified.
Among overweight students, intervention parents were more likely to know their child's weight status (PI, 44%; GI, 41%; CG, 23%) (P = .02). The PI parents planned medical help (PI, 25%; GI, 7%; CG, 9%) (P = .004), dieting activities (PI, 19%; GI and CG, <5 cases) (P = .02) and physical activities (PI, 42%; GI, 27%; CG, 13%) (P<.001) for their overweight children. No group effect on concern or preventive behaviors was detected. Most parents of overweight children who read materials requested annual weight and health information on their child (PI, 91%; GI, 67%).
Among overweight children, the PI was associated with increased parental awareness of their child's weight status. Although parents wanted PI for their children, more research is needed to test this approach on children's self-esteem and plans for weight control.