Growing Healthy Together: A Randomized Clinical Trial Using Parent Mentors for Early Childhood Obesity in Low-Income, Latino Families

Byron A. Foster, Kelsey Weinstein, Thalia Padilla, Cynthia Martinez, Diana Angeles-Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parent mentors are a potential community-based mechanism for delivering behavioral interventions. For communities at a higher risk of obesity and challenges with access to care, such as migrant and seasonal farm workers, this may be an effective intervention for obesity. This study examined the effect of parent mentors on weight outcomes. Methods: This randomized clinical trial assigned parents of 2- to 5 year-old children enrolled in Head Start 1:1:1 to control, a parent mentor teaching We Can!, or a parent mentor teaching an intervention derived from positive deviance methods. The parent mentor arms were designed to have weekly interactions and monthly community meetings over 6 months. The primary outcome was change in adiposity, as measured by body mass indices. Results: We randomized 188 parents, and 155 completed the 6-month visit. Most parents, 107 (58%), had less than a high school education, and 170 (90%) reported Latino ethnicity. In the intention-to-treat analysis, no difference between the groups was observed for change in percent distance from the median or BMI z-score. The median number of interactions was 14 (IQR 10-20) over 6 months for those who did engage, though 24 of 118 (20%) had no interaction. Those with no interactions in We Can! had a mean increase in change from median of 6.7 [standard deviation (SD) = 8.2]; those with higher participation experienced a 0.4 (SD = 9.2) change, p = 0.04. Conclusions: Parent mentors were not effective in changing the adiposity indices in this study overall, with some evidence of efficacy after accounting for participation. registration number: NCT03330743.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • children
  • obesity
  • peer mentor
  • positive deviance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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