NewsChild-friendly research methodologies in childhood obesity prevention

Prevention of childhood obesity is an international public health priority. Schools are often seen as the ideal setting for public health interventions to prevent obesity in children. Yet proof of effectiveness is lacking.

A reason for this research gap is the difficulty in combining and pooling the evidence from randomised controlled trials in systematic reviews and meta-analyses due to the diversity of outcomes reported.

This leads to repetition of studies that have low chance of success. It also leads to research waste.

One way to ensure results from randomised controlled trials can be used is to standardise the selection of outcomes across studies.

Deirdre Harrington (Lecturer, Physical Activity for Health Group in the school of Psychological Sciences and Health) has been working with colleagues at Amsterdam University Medical Centres (UMC) on the development of a core outcome set for school-based childhood obesity prevention trials. A core outcome set is a consensus-based, generally accepted, minimum sets of outcomes to be measured and reported in all effectiveness trials of specific health interventions. This enhances standardisation in outcome measurement and reporting which will lead to more study results being used and subsequently lead to improved interventions.

In 2021 Deirdre secured a Royal Society of Edinburgh Saltire International Collaboration Award for this research between Scotland-based and European colleagues from the Department of Public and Occupational Health at Amsterdam UMC.

Teatske Altenburg is an Assistant Professor who works on movement behaviour change and child-friendly participatory action research methods. She has been driving the COS work as part of her wider portfolio of child public health research. As part of the COS project, Lotte de Vries (project research assistant) has developed a protocol for including child opinions as part of the core outcome set consensus process. This is something largely absent in child health core outcome sets so far.

Next week Deirdre has the pleasure of hosting Teatske and Lotte on a research visit to the University. As part of this visit there will be a Zoom seminar on 4th of May 12-1pm that is open to those interested in child-friendly research methods, core outcome sets or childhood obesity.

At the seminar both speakers will tell us about their child-friendly research methods they have used. Deirdre will also update the audience on how YOU can get involved in the core outcome set consensus process! They are also available for 1-2-1 meetings about their work on that same day. Just drop Deirdre an email if you would like to chat with them in person

Contact if you are interested in attending and want to register.