Full RCT of HENRY’s Healthy Families: Right from the Start group programme

Following a successful pilot RCT, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has approved funding for a full RCT of HENRY’s Healthy Families: Right from the Start group programme.

The pilot RCT found that the research methodologies were effective and also found a positive impact on children’s weight status – children whose parents attended a HENRY programme had a trend for BMI z-score reduction towards an ideal weight, whereas in the control group there was an increase in BMI z-score.

What are the advantages for local authorities involved in the trial?

  • Being part of a national flagship study on effective obesity prevention
  • ‘Gold standard’ testing and learning about the impact of HENRY and the outcomes of local investment in HENRY in relation to rates of child obesity
  • Increased understanding of the impact of HENRY on the wider local system
  • Financial support will be provided to local areas to support parent recruitment to the study (we envisage this will be about £2.5k to £3k per area, although the exact amount will depend on the volume of parent recruitment) For more details on this, please contact the research team.

If you would like to express interest or discuss being involved in the trial, please contact the lead researcher, Dr Maria Bryant: 01904 325358 or at maria.bryant@york.ac.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the trial start?

July 2022. The first 6 months will focus on recruiting local delivery partners and randomising centres. Training practitioners to deliver HENRY is likely to start in late 2022/early 2023.

What is the aim of the trial?

To establish the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of an obesity prevention programme delivered at scale, including its potential role from a wider systems perspective, both in terms of its impact on the system and the contextual factors influencing its effectiveness.

Research questions:

1. What is the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of HENRY in terms of reducing the risk of obesity in children?
2. Does HENRY influence rates of obesity in parents, siblings and health practitioners who have attended training?
3. What does the obesity system in which HENRY is positioned look like?
4. What role does HENRY play in childhood obesity prevention within the wider system?

Outcomes that will be assessed:

Primary outcome (assessed at 12 month follow up): Child BMI z-score.

Secondary outcomes (assessed at 12 month follow up):

  • parent and centre staff BMI and waist circumference
  • parenting self-efficacy
  • feeding
  • eating habits
  • centre social and physical environment
  • adverse events/unintended consequences

Parental consent will be sought to access routine NCMP or Health visitor data on height/length and weight (depending on the child’s age at recruitment) for the child and siblings at 3 years post parent registration to assess long-term impact.

How many local authorities will join the trial?


Which local authorities will be eligible to join the trial?

Areas already commissioning HENRY may be eligible, provided they have at least two ‘HENRY naïve’ centres (and ideally six or more). See definition below.
In the terms of the trial, a ‘centre’ is defined as a distinct locality/neighbourhood within a local authority or NHS Trust area. In some areas, this might comprise a children’s centre cluster or family support hub.
HENRY naïve centres are defined as:
(a) not currently delivering HENRY programmes nor within the past two years,
(b) not having received HENRY Core Training or Group Facilitation Training within the past two years
(c) not sharing staff between nominated centres.

What will be expected of local authorities joining the trial?

  • Local authorities will need to cover the standard costs of HENRY training, licence and resources as these costs are not covered by the NIHR.
  • The trial is a randomised cluster design – which means centres are randomised, not families. Local areas will agree to the research team randomising their chosen HENRY naive nominated centres to either intervention or control arm. This means all participating areas will have some HENRY naïve centres delivering HENRY programmes and some which will not.
  • Each centre randomised to receive HENRY will commit to delivering 3 or more programmes during the course of the trial (over approximately 18 months depending on start date)
  • Each centre randomised as control arm will commit to not implementing HENRY (including training practitioners) until after the 12 month follow up data has been collected (by approx. September 2025).
  • Support parent recruitment to the study:
    o Not all parents/carers joining HENRY programmes will be expected to join the research study – instead, an average of four parents per programme are expected.
    o Local staff will receive training from the NIHR Clinical Research Network to support them to recruit parents/carers to join the study and gain their consent.
    o Control centres (where HENRY will not be delivered) will also be asked to support the recruitment of the same amount of parents to the study at approximately the same time.
    o  After consent, parent data will be collected in family homes (or at the centre if preferred by the parent) at baseline (to include parent and child demographics) and 12 months post parent registration by Clinical Research Network teams.

How do commissioners get involved?

The Clinical Research Network will contact local commissioners and invite expressions of interest. Please do get in touch with the research team with any questions using the details below.

Local areas that may be interested in joining the trial will need to get in touch with HENRY as well to discuss training requirements and to understand the detail and costs of what is involved in implementing HENRY locally.

Get in touch!

  • The Research Team -  Please contact us for details of participating in the trial - Dr Maria Bryant, 01904 325358, maria.bryant@york.ac.uk
    o Please contact us for details of training and ongoing support arrangements and costs
    o Angie or Tom, 01865 302973, info@henry.org.uk