The research conducted by Ash, Agaronov, Young, Aftosmes-Tobio, and Davison (2017) aimed to explore family-based childhood obesity prevention interventions in a variety of settings and geographical locations. The choice of the problem was associated with the availability of a large range of interventions used for managing and preventing childhood obesity. Because of the direct influence of parents on the success of weight management interventions, the researchers wanted to explore how effective programs involving parents would be.
While specific research questions were not included in the published article, the aim of Ash et al.’s (2017) systematic review was “to profile the existing family-based childhood obesity prevention interventions and identify any gaps in knowledge that should be addressed in the future” (p. 113). Ash et al. (2017) did not define the key terms of the study since their aim was to provide a content analysis of available studies.
The authors hypothesized that despite the wide availability of research on childhood obesity, it was hard to identify gaps in the literature as well as determine best practices from a pragmatic viewpoint. This problem is important in terms of healthcare practice because there is a wide variety of obesity-centered interventions while not many of them address the topic of parents’ involvement in weight loss.
Ash et al.’s (2017) article does not include a substantiative literature review to present the body of available literature on the topic of childhood obesity interventions. It is possible that the authors refrained from an extensive review because of their focus on research analysis rather than its description. In their background section, Ash et al. (2017) offered accounts on the problem in general and mentioned several studies from reputable healthcare organizations (for example, the Institute of Medicine) to illustrate whether progress has been made in the recent efforts of childhood obesity prevention. The cited resources were pertinent to the study because the researchers conducted a review of literature for the purpose of coding. A brief review of the literature was necessary for the authors to suggest content analysis strategies for coding interventions and reviewing them from the perspective of several viewpoints, expressed in the form of guiding questions. The search date was 2008 to account for studies published after the Institute of Medicine report in 2007. The end date for the literature search was December 31, 2015 (Ash et al., 2017). No evidence of bias was seen.
Given the fact that childhood obesity is a pervasive problem on a global scale, Ash et al.’s (2017) research are very relevant to the current state of public health. In their study, the researchers chose to implement a systematic review and quantitative content analysis as the key aspects of their non-experimental methodology. Therefore, the study did not include an experiment nor did it test a specific obesity intervention on a population of children and their parents. Since no experiment was conducted, no variables were identified. In order to find studies for their systematic review and conducting a quantitative content analysis, Ash et al. (2017) searched through relevant databases (i.e., CINAHL, PubMed, and PsycINFO). The study was original and did not imply the implementation of pilot research.
As the result of the search, 9152 unique hits were generated; by removing articles on the basis of their exclusion criteria, Ash et al. (2017) were left with 1701 studies for further review. When looking through these articles, the researchers removed all studies that did not meet the criteria for eligibility. Finally, out of the initial 9152 unique research articles, 119 childhood obesity prevention interventions (159 articles) were included in the final sample (Ash et al., 2017). In relation to the purpose of the study, the final sample of 159 unique articles was valuable to the research and content analysis in particular. In order to standardize their process of coding, the researchers developed a codebook that included articles’ publication years, resources of funding, and the types of papers. The researchers coded a large scope of characteristics such as the age of the target groups of children, the setting of interventions, modes of delivery, the use of theoretical frameworks, the geographic region of interventions, the timeframe during which interventions were implemented, and recipients. Coding was the key measurement tool in Ash et al.’s (2017) study. Overall, the process of coding ensured a bias-free selection and analysis for reaching valid and reliable results.
When it comes to the practicality of research, Ash et al. (2017) provided a comprehensive synthesis of available studies on childhood obesity prevention and made it possible to differentiate between the most and the least effective strategies targeted at dealing with the pervasive issue of childhood obesity. The study offered valuable findings in relation to childhood obesity interventions. Thus, the findings supported the purpose of the research. For example, it was found that 56% of all interventions reviewed during content analysis were based in the United States, which points to the persistence of this health issue in the country. Other important findings include the fact that 85% of interventions were implemented in-person and that 63% were federally funded. With regards to the target age groups of childhood obesity interventions, 43% of them included parents with children aged between two and five, 35% of the targeted families with children between six and ten. However, it is important also to note that a minor portion of interventions also targeted families during their prenatal period or when their children reached the age between fourteen and seventeen years old. Theories used to support childhood obesity interventions included the following categories: “social cognitive theory, parenting styles, ecological frameworks, transtheoretical model of behavior change, health belief model, the theory of planned behavior, and others” (Ash et al., 2017, p. 117). This means that all obesity management interventions implemented in family contexts were developed on the basis of existing theoretical frameworks.
The mentioned research findings can be applied in a variety of ways due to the all-encompassing nature of childhood obesity. Taking into attention the characteristics of current interventions for weight management, researchers can use the findings of the study conducted by Ash et al. (2017) when conducting obesity prevention interventions in the future. Looking at the disadvantages of the research that could have been improved, the researchers did not address interventions in low-income countries. This can be a potential for future studies since there is a gap in the available literature in terms of managing childhood obesity in lower-income nations. Also, Ash et al. (2017) failed to address the variable of sleep and media use pertaining to their contribution to childhood obesity. Therefore, the study could have been improved by paying more attention to specific contributors to obesity for providing researchers with a framework for the future exploration of the issue.
Data were analyzed through coding information associated with childhood obesity interventions. The findings supported the purpose and the hypothesis that the researchers initially discussed. Overall, the writing in the article is clear and straightforward, which gives readers an opportunity to focus on the specifics of childhood obesity interventions rather than reading general information. Also, Ash et al. (2017) included graphs and tables in their article to structure relevant information and offer a condensed summary of findings. This addition to the article is especially important because of the inclusion of a large number of criteria necessary for content analysis. As mentioned previously, the findings of the research provided a backdrop for future studies on family-based interventions for overcoming childhood obesity. Importantly, further studies are necessary for bridging the gaps in existing research. This is so because Ash et al. (2017) discussed their inability to address the influence of media use and sleeping patterns on the healthy weight of children.
It can be summarized that the conclusions of the study relate to its original purpose. Despite the fact that the research had some limitations, it offered a comprehensive look at the synthesis of available literature on the topic of family-based interventions for childhood obesity. Ash et al. (2017) found some important trends relating to obesity management interventions that would directly affect children and families, which present implications for future research.
In my personal assessment, the study is very relevant because today, the problem of childhood obesity continues to grow and affects large portions of the population worldwide. While the implications were not discussed, the researchers recommended focusing on studying childhood obesity interventions among lower-income groups.
Ash, T., Agaronov, A., Young, T., Aftosmes-Tobio, A., & Davison, K. K. (2017). Family-based childhood obesity prevention interventions: A systematic review and quantitative content analysis. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14, 113-125.
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