The MINISTOP trial
To counteract overweight and obesity in preschool children with the help of a mobile application.
What is MINISTOP?
MINISTOP (Mobile-based Intervention Intended to Stop Obesity in Preschoolers) is a randomized controlled trial aimed to assess the effectiveness of an mHealth obesity prevention program on body fat, dietary habits and physical activity in healthy Swedish children. The interest for the study among parents has been very high – a total of 315 children underwent baseline measures (body fatness, physical activity level and physical fitness) at 4,5 years of age and were then randomized into either the control or intervention group. The 6-month mHealth intervention was a web-based application (the MINSTOP app) to help parents promote healthy eating and physical activity in children. MINISTOP is based on the Social Cognitive Theory and involves the delivery of a comprehensive, personalized program of information and text messages based on existing guidelines for a healthy diet and active lifestyle in preschool children.
After the intervention, and at follow-up (12 months after baseline), the children were measured again (same measures as baseline). Data collection was finalized in Oct 2015 and results show that the MINISTOP app had a positive effect on improving dietary habits (especially increased intake of fruits and vegetables) and physical activity on group level. Interesting results also includes that even small amounts of intense physical activity (5 min/day) were associated to higher fat-free body mass and higher physical fitness in the 4-year-olds. In addition, a new method developed within MINISTOP (Tool for Energy balance in Children, TECH) – a method for assessing children’s intake of energy, fruit and vegetables, soda and candy, by taking photos with the parents’ mobile phone –, showed good reliability and thus has the potential to be a useful tool for future dietary studies in preschool children.
Currently, we are working on following up all MINISTOP children at the age of 9,5 years. We have also further developed and modified the MINISTOP app for implementation in the Swedish child healthcare (ongoing project; MINISTOP 2.0), with the aim to help counteract childhood overweight and obesity.