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Parent preferences for telephone coaching to prevent and manage childhood obesity
  1. Rachel E Blaine1,
  2. Lori Pbert2,
  3. Alan C Geller3,
  4. E Michael Powers4,
  5. Kathleen Mitchell5
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee USA
  5. 5Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Watertown, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ms Rachel E Blaine, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Building 2, Room #320, Boston, MA 02115, USA; rblaine{at}


Objective To assess parent preferences for utilisation of a parent-focused, telephone-based coaching service, or ‘FITLINE,’ to prevent or manage childhood obesity.

Methods A cross-sectional survey of parents of children aged 2–12 years was conducted at a paediatric practice in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, USA, between July 2012 and May 2013. Parents received questionnaires with clinic visit paperwork and opted-in to the study by returning them to clinic staff or by mail. The anonymous pen-to-paper questionnaire assessed parents’ potential FITLINE utilisation, preferences regarding educational content and logistics, and parent/child demographics. Simple logistical regression was used to assess associations between parent and child factors and FITLINE interest.

Results Among n=114 participants, most parents reported being very likely (n=53, 48%) or somewhat likely (n=44, 40%) to use a FITLINE-promoting healthy habits for children if it was made available. Interest in a FITLINE was greatest among overweight or obese parents (OR 3.12, CI 1.17 to 8.30) and those with children aged <5 years (OR 2.42, CI 1.02 to 5.73). Parents desired to discuss their own health and fitness goals (84%) along with educational topics such as healthy food shopping on a budget (91%) and how to meet children's physical activity needs (81%). Most parents preferred to obtain a FITLINE referral from a paediatrician or nurse (73%), instead of a school nurse (42%) or child-care provider (26%).

Conclusions Given strong interest among parents in a FITLINE and the urgency of the youth obesity epidemic, implementation of a pilot phone-based service should be strongly considered.


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