A Standardised Approach to Measuring Infant Feeding Outcomes to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Approximately one in five children currently experience obesity worldwide, making it a major public health challenge. What, how and when children are fed in the first year of life (“infant-feeding”) contributes to childhood obesity risk. However, strategies, including interventions to prevent childhood obesity by targeting infant-feeding, show inconsistent findings. The lack of consistent findings may relate to intervention studies measuring different outcomes (i.e., a child’s dietary intake or parent’s feeding behaviours) in different ways. I previously identified what infant-feeding outcomes are essential to measure in studies to prevent childhood obesity. The essential next step is to determine how to measure these outcomes. The proposed research will develop a standardised outcome measurement set, providing researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with a toolkit of measurement instruments (e.g., questionnaires, clinical assessments) to evaluate infant-feeding interventions better, in order to prevent childhood obesity. The proposed research comprises three key steps: 1. Systematically review the research literature and identify existing measurement instruments to determine how outcomes are currently measured. 2. Review the literature to find evidence about the identified measurement instruments' quality and determine if they are fit-for-purpose. 3. Consult with parents, healthcare professionals, researchers, and policymakers via an online international survey, followed by a 2-day meeting, to decide what measurement instruments should be included in the standardised outcome measurement set and how best to ensure the measurement instruments are used in research, practice, and policy. The results of this research will provide researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with a reliable, valid, and appropriate set of measurement instruments to examine the effects of interventions to prevent childhood obesity. This will enhance the evaluation of interventions to prevent childhood obesity, with potential for significant impact on, and meaningful improvements for, population health.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar
Host Institution
University College Cork
Emerging Investigator Awards for Health (EIA) 2022