OBJECTIVES: The Norwegian randomized controlled trial Early Food for Future Health provided parental anticipatory guidance on early protective feeding practices from child age 6 to 12 months through an eHealth intervention. Previously published outcomes at child age 12 months indicated that the eHealth intervention increased daily vegetable/fruit intake and promoted more beneficial mealtime routines. The objective of the current paper is to evaluate the effects of the intervention at child age 24 months, one year after cessation.
METHODS: Parents of infants aged 3-5 months were recruited via social media and child health clinics during spring 2016. At child age 5.5 months, 715 mothers were randomized to either control (n = 358) or intervention (n = 360) arm. Primary study-outcomes were child eating behaviors, dietary intake, mealtime routines and maternal feeding practices and feeding styles. Secondary outcome was child anthropometry.
RESULTS: In total 295 mothers (41%) completed the follow-up questionnaire at child age 24 months. Regarding fruit intake, 54.3% in the intervention group had a high score compared with 48.3% of the control group (p = 0.29). For intake of vegetables, 54.5% in the intervention group had a high score compared with 50.7% in the control group (p = 0.49). A total of 65.7% of the children in the intervention group were eating breakfast together with family ≥ 4 times per week, compared with 57.3% of the children in the control group (p = 0.12). There was no difference between the groups for child anthropometric outcomes at child age 24 months.
CONCLUSIONS: At child age 24 months, we found no evidence of sustained intervention-effects. Although dietary patterns and mealtime routines at child age 24 months were reasonably consistent and in the same directions as at child age 12 months, the between-group differences were not significant. The large loss to follow-up may have limited power and validity and makes it difficult to draw overall conclusions. Future research is needed to improve knowledge of how short-time effects could be retained over longer term, taking into account that larger samples are necessary when planning longer-term follow-up studies.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN, ISRCTN13601567.