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Using interactive digital technology to predict and prevent childhood overweight

Rose, Jennie; Redsell, Sarah A.; Wharrad, Heather; Siriwardena, A. Niroshan; Swift, Judy A.; Dilip, Nathan; Weng, Stephen F.; Atkinson, Pippa; Ablewhite, Joanne; Watson, Vicki; Glazebrook, Cris

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Jennie Rose

Sarah A. Redsell

Professor of E-Learning and Health Informatics

A. Niroshan Siriwardena

Judy A. Swift

Nathan Dilip

Stephen F. Weng

Pippa Atkinson

Vicki Watson


Background: Obesity risk factors can be identified during infancy, providing an opportunity for early intervention. ProAsk is an interactive digital intervention that supports health professionals to quantify and communicate an infant's overweight risk status, prompting discussion of parental strategies to reduce future risk.

Aim: To investigate user experiences of an interactive digital intervention that assesses overweight risk during infancy and supports motivational behaviour change by parents to reduce their infants' future risk.

Method: The study was conducted in four economically deprived localities in the UK. Qualitative data on user experiences of ProAsk were collected at the end of a feasibility study of the intervention in which health visitors (public health nurses) used ProAsk with parents when the infants were three months old. Semi-structured interviews with parents (N = 12) and health visitors (N = 15) were conducted when the infants were 6 months old. Interview data were transcribed and analysed thematically using an inductive, interpretative approach.

Results: The analysis identified four key themes: engaging and empowering with digital technology; unfamiliar technology presents challenge and opportunity; trust in the risk score; resistance to targeting.

Conclusions: Interactive, digital technology was found to actively engage parents, and enabled them to take ownership of the process of seeking strategies to reduce infant risk of overweight. However, cognitive and motivational biases that prevent effective overweight risk communication represent barriers to targeting the intervention at those infants most at risk of becoming overweight.


Rose, J., Redsell, S. A., Wharrad, H., Siriwardena, A. N., Swift, J. A., Dilip, N., …Glazebrook, C. (in press). Using interactive digital technology to predict and prevent childhood overweight. Acta Paediatrica, 106(S470),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 12, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2018
Journal Acta Paediatrica
Print ISSN 0803-5253
Electronic ISSN 1651-2227
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 106
Issue S470
Keywords Infancy; Intervention; Obesity; Overweight; Prevention
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: 2017), Oral Presentations. Acta Paediatrica, 106: 10–18. doi: 10.1111/apa.14093, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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