Intrduction: eHealth interventions have shown promise in assisting with lifestyle behaviour change and offer the advantage of broad-reach access. Many previous eHealth studies in children and adolescents have demonstrated positive results in relation to weight, physical activity or diet. However, there have been no previous reviews which have specifically investigated the effectiveness of parent-focused eHealth obesity interventions.
Methods: Seven databases were searched from 1995-2015. Randomised controlled trials which reported BMI / BMI z-score were included. Secondary outcomes included diet, physical activity and screen time.
Results: Eight articles on seven eHealth interventions, using the mediums of internet, interactive voice response and telemedicine were included. Participant age ranged from 5-15 years and study size ranged from 35-1013 dyads. One study reported a significant improvement in weight/adiposity (waist-to-hip ratio). Three studies demonstrated significant improvements in at least one dietary measurement and three studies showed significant improvements in at least one physical activity measurement. A meta-analysis demonstrated no significant difference in the effects of parent-focussed eHealth obesity interventions compared to a control on BMI/BMI z-score (SMD -0.15, 95% CI -0.45 to 0.16, Z=0.94, P=0.35).
Conclusion: While over half of the studies demonstrated significant improvements in diet or physical activity, only one found a significant change in weight/adiposity. As many studies were small, they may have been inadequately powered. There were no studies on children under the age of five. It is recommended that larger studies be conducted, particularly those which target younger age groups.