CHErIsH – the Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health study – is funded by Ireland’s Health Research Board (HRB). The study seeks to improve infant feeding practices among parents and caregivers. A key aim of the study is to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and overweight, which affects approximately one in four children in Ireland today.
Currently, CHErIsH is undergoing feasibility testing at a leading primary healthcare centre – the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre (MPHC) in Co. Cork. The results of this part of the study (Work package 2) will determine whether the intervention is feasible in its current form and whether it should be implemented more widely.
The following sections provide background information on CHErIsH as well as details of the individual work packages encompassed in this study.
Background to the CHErIsH study
Childhood overweight and obesity is a significant public health concern, with considerable health, psychosocial and economic consequences. Early infant feeding practices (aged 0-2 years), including when and how parents introduce solid foods to infants, can influence the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and later life.
The overall aim of this research is to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot complex intervention to promote healthy infant feeding practices in primary care. A team of researchers from University College Cork (UCC), NUI Galway (NUIG) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) are currently working together in partnership with policymakers and practitioners including Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre (MPHC) to address four main objectives:
- To evaluate the financial costs of childhood overweight and obesity in Ireland, and its impact on the current and future health and well-being of children and their families in Ireland
- To synthesise information from existing studies on the influence of early infant feeding practices on child outcomes
- To increase our understanding of infant feeding practices in Ireland, and ways we may be able to help enhance these, through interviews/focus groups with parents and healthcare workers
- To develop and test an intervention for primary care to increase healthy early infant feeding practices, with a goal of improving childhood obesity/overweight outcomes
To achieve these aims, the project consists of three sequential work packages to be conducted over the lifetime of the project:
Work package 1 involves:
- Modelling the physical, psychological and economic costs of childhood obesity
- Compiling systematic review and qualitative evidence syntheses of interventions to influence early feeding practices
Work package 2 involves:
- Exploring the feasibility of an infant feeding intervention in primary care
- Identifying and developing theory to inform intervention development
- Examining the costs of including intervention in routine immunisation visits
Work package 2 will involve conducting interviews with healthcare providers and focus groups with parents/primary caregivers of young children (aged 0-2). The information and experiences obtained from this research will help shape the development of an infant feeding intervention for primary care in Ireland.
Work package 3 involves:
- Pilot testing the intervention to promote healthy early infant feeding practices
- Economic evaluation of the pilot intervention
- Process evaluation of the intervention
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