Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Children who live in rural areas are twice as likely to be severely overweight than other children in the United States. Doctors can help prevent obesity through counseling at well-child visits. For example, they can refer families to community resources. In this study, the research team is comparing how well three types of well-child visits prevent obesity among preschool-aged children in rural areas.

Who can this research help?

Results may help doctors and parents of preschool-aged children when considering ways to prevent and treat childhood obesity.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling 2,040 children ages 2–5 and their families. Children are patients at a health system in rural Pennsylvania. The team is assigning children by chance to one of three groups.

In the first group, each child attends their usual well-child visit, which includes counseling to prevent obesity.

In the second group, each child attends their usual well-child visit. Before the visit, parents complete a survey about family nutrition and exercise. The survey informs the advice the doctor gives on preventing obesity.

In the third group, each child attends their usual well-child visit, and a parent completes the survey. Parents also receive a referral to food care. In food care, parents receive six sessions with a trained wellness coach by video or phone. The wellness coaches help parents set goals for family meals, create bedtime routines, and exercise more as a family. Parents also receive an in-person or virtual grocery store tour from a nutritionist. The nutritionist helps parents compare products and choose healthy foods they can afford.

At the start of the study and one year later, the research team is reviewing health records to collect children’s body mass index, or BMI, a measure of body size based on height and weight. The research team is comparing BMI for children in the three groups.

Parents, primary care providers, wellness coaches, and nutritionists are helping to plan and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population 2,040 children ages 2–5 living in rural areas
  • Usual well-child visits
  • Well-child visits plus parent-reported outcomes
  • Well-child visits plus parent-reported outcomes plus food care

Primary: BMI

Secondary: food security, patient’s perceptions of doctor-patient communication during the clinic visit, food resource management

Timeframe 1-year follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Lisa Bailey-Davis, RD, DEd
Geisinger Clinic
Patient-Clinic-Community Integration to Prevent Obesity among Rural Preschool Children

Key Dates

November 2019
May 2025

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023