Development and evaluation of an intervention for the prevention of childhood obesity in a multiethnic population: the Born in Bradford applied research programme

Background: There is an absence of evidence about interventions to prevent or treat obesity in early childhood and in South Asian populations, in whom risk is higher. Objectives: To study patterns and the aetiology of childhood obesity in a multiethnic population and develop a prevention intervention. Design: A cohort of pregnant women and their infants was recruited. Measures to compare growth and identify targets for obesity prevention, sensitive to ethnic differences, were collected. A feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT) was undertaken. Setting: Bradford, UK. Participants: A total of 1735 mothers, 933 of whom were of South Asian origin. Intervention: A feasibility trial of a group-based intervention aimed at overweight women, delivered ante- and postnatally, targeting key modifiable lifestyle behaviours to reduce infant obesity. Main outcome measures: The feasibility and acceptability of the pilot intervention. Data sources: Routine NHS data and additional bespoke research data. Review methods: A systematic review of diet and physical activity interventions to prevent or treat obesity in South Asian children and adults. Results: Routine measures of growth were accurate. The prevalence of risk factors differed between mothers of white British ethnicity and mothers of Pakistani ethnicity and weight and length growth trajectories differed between Pakistani infants and white British infants. Prediction equations for risk of childhood obesity were developed. An evidence-based intervention was evaluated in a pilot RCT and was found to be feasible and acceptable. Limitations: This was a single-centre observational study and a pilot evaluation. Conclusions: The programme has been successful in recruiting a unique multiethnic childhood obesity cohort, which has provided new evidence about modifiable risk factors and biethnic growth trajectories. A novel group-based behavioural change intervention has been developed and successfully piloted. A multisite cluster RCT is required to evaluate effectiveness. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN56735429. Funding: The National Institute for Health Research Programme Grants for Applied Research programme.