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Table 3 Feedback from focus groups with parents

From: Testing the feasibility of a sustainable preschool obesity prevention approach: a mixed-methods service evaluation of a volunteer-led HENRY programme

Theme Subtheme Comments
Motivation to engage Getting involved with HENRY ‘Because I was thinking, “She’s eating a little bit.” I’m thinking, “Is she full? Is she not full? Oh my God, am I starving her?”’ (Parent H)
‘He is a fussy eater and the easiest way is to distract him and just feed him, which is why I wanted HENRY, because I wanted a healthier approach for how to actually get him to sit down at the table with us and actually eat. So, yes, that’s what I expected.’ (Parent H)
Changes made Time spent with family members ‘Time for everybody, together or alone it’s very important …. They are playing and telling stories and focus attention to them more than before.’ (Parent E)
‘But before it was all like I need to do this. I need to do that. So it was, basically, me doing everything by myself. But now I don’t feel like that. I feel like I just need to have a healthy lifestyle and my family joins in with me instead of me thinking that I have to be separate to them and do like a separate diet, do a separate gym activity.’ (Parent H)
Changes within the family ‘The children would always sit at a little table and the parents would always eat separately after the children were in bed. The children would eat at, sort of 5:00 pm, I guess, and then the parents wouldn’t get home until 7:00 pm, and then they’d eat about 8:00 pm when the children were in bed. But because I was now cooking and eating with them, then we moved to the big table.’ (Parent E)
‘Yes, because I used to put hers separately, give her breakfast on her own or give her dinner on her own or feed her first and then us. But now I just put her with us, if she makes a mess, she makes a mess.’ (Parent E)
Mechanisms of change Goal setting ‘And I kept having these really high targets for myself, saying, “I’m going to do this every week … And I wouldn’t get- it’s not possible to do it. And then I will fail. And then it will just make me feel miserable”’ (Parent H)
‘Because then I set myself targets and say, “I’m going to go to the gym five times a week. I’m going to do this.” Then it won’t work. So now, I say, “Okay, three times, four times a week I’ll go to the park. I’ll do some extra walking, instead of eating takeaways, I’ll make some food at home so the baby eats with me.”’ (Parent H)
Reflecting on their family’s eating habits ‘For us, it was very useful, because it helped us to look more in depth at our family life and his activities, his eating, his routines.’ (Parent H)
‘… portion sizes. Because I’m really bad for myself. And for children, thinking how much they can eat, how big their stomachs are. I still get confused, but it’s a good reference tool to have.’ (Parent E)
‘… and labelling in the foods that’s very important. I used to do it, but after that I tried to read every fact and everything from the labelling. It’s very, very important.’ (Parent E)
Practical parenting strategies ‘So I remember one session, I found it a bit silly at the time, but it helped. We were sitting at the table, me and my daughter and then we had a teddy bear there as well. And I was like, “Right, you need to give out the food on the table. Today, you be in charge.”’ (Parent H)
“the children really liked their reward scheme, so we did a tree so they would draw a new leaf on the tree if they did something really helpful or extraordinary. And then mum and dad got involved as well so there was a sort of family rule tree and we could all draw a leaf if everybody thought we’d done something particularly kind or … Which worked quite well.’” (Parent E)
Volunteers ‘Yes, she’s very talented in the way that she was not even vaguely judgmental. You didn’t feel like she was coming to tell you how to do something. She was just helping and suggesting.’ (Parent E)
‘But it was good, because she didn’t give up bless her. She was very persistent. I think that was a good thing. Because if it was down to me I’d probably like, “Well, forget it. I’m not going to complete it.” But she didn’t give up.’ (Parent H)
Programme feedback Programme feedback ‘So, for me, the way it worked was that HENRY was in the book, it was nice they put in different sections, so every week there was something else we were talking about. So I think I found that very helpful. And it wasn’t very intrusive. They didn’t intervene. Just very simple, basic to a point, nice.’ (Parent H)
‘I think it should be promoted more, because it’s not really known out there for a lot of people. Not a lot of families know about it, not a lot of families hear about it.’ (Parent H)
‘And so it would have been good to do some practical activities like cook a meal together or sit down and eat a meal together.’ (Parent E)