Developing an online program to prevent obesity in preschool-aged children: what do parents recommend?
Aim: The purpose of the present study was to describe preliminary research preceding the development of an online educational program for parents of preschool-aged children who are overweight or at-risk of overweight. Methods: The study consisted of an evaluation of current health-related websites and four focus groups with typical-end point users. It was conducted in one metropolitan region in New South Wales. Twenty-seven participants were recruited for the focus groups. The focus groups aimed to investigate the thoughts and opinions of participants towards an online educational program. Focus group transcripts were analysed using logico-inductive analysis procedures. Results: The evaluation of the websites revealed that most were largely repositories of information and did not provide guidance on how to practically implement the information into everyday life. Several themes emerged from the focus groups, including: usability and readability; credibility; inclusiveness; personalisation and practical help in modifying current behaviours. Conclusions: The present study highlights many of the limitations in current online programs/websites and interventions targeting preschool children. We have attempted to address these in the design and development of the Time2bHealthy Program. The present study describes the first step in the development of a novel and innovative initiative that has the potential to make a contribution to long-term health of preschool children and their families.