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Health nurses’ prevention of obesity from infancy

The initiatives seek to support and guide new parents in matters of early risk factors for child obesity and mental health problems. 

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Maja Lund
Project Manager, Social & Humanitarian, Novo Nordisk Foundation

The health nurse’s guidance comes as a blessing to most new parents who are facing a new everyday life with a small infant in the family. The National Institute of Public Health, SDU, has received two grants to develop new evidence-based methods that can help strengthen nurses guidance of new families. Obesity in the early stages of life often continues into adulthood, and there is therefore a growing need for advice on mental health as well as assistance to new parents on how to ensure healthy weight development in their child. 

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a total of DKK 30 million for the two initiatives, which will run over five years and will be tested in 35 municipalities. If the research demonstrates that the projects have significant effect, there will be evidence for expanding the projects to all municipalities of the country.  

The first initiative, the Healthy Childhood Trial, aims to develop a new evidence-based method for nurses to support and guide parents in matters of early risk factors for later childhood obesity. The initiative is targeted everyone and will draw up a concrete programme that in the long term will help to ensure that more children have a healthy weight development throughout childhood. 

The second initiative, Infant Health, aims to develop a new approach to reducing the risk of mental health problems and obesity among the most vulnerable children. This is ensured through a strengthening of the child-parent relationship in families with particularly vulnerable children and significantly limited resources. The focus of the project is to train nurses to help parents understand and address the child’s developmental vulnerability and to help regulate eating, sleeping, and emotional responses. 

DKK 10.7 million is awarded to Professor Morten Grønbæk from the National Institute of Public Health for the project Healthy Childhood Trial. 

DKK 20 million is awarded to Professor Anne Mette Skovgaard from the National Institute of Public Health for the project Infant Health.