See how they grow: Testing the feasibility of a mobile app to support parents' understanding of child growth charts

Gayl Humphrey, Rosie Dobson, Varsha Parag, Marion Hiemstra, Stephen Howie, Samantha Marsh, Susan Morton, Dylan Mordaunt, Angela Wadham, Chris Bullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Background Mobile devices provide new opportunities for the prevention of overweight and obesity in children. We aimed to co-create and test an app that offered comprehensible feedback to parents on their child's growth and delivered a suite of age-specific information about nutrition and activity. Methods A two-phased approach was used to co-create the digital growth tool-See How They Grow -and test its feasibility. Phase one used focus groups (parents and professionals such as paediatricians and midwives) and a national on-line survey to gather requirements and build the app. Phase two involved testing the app over 12-weeks, with parents or carers of children aged ≤ 2-years. All research activities were undertaken exclusively through the app, and participants were recruited using social media and hard copy materials given to patents at a child health visit. Findings Four focus groups and 101 responses to the national survey informed the features and functions to include in the final app. Two hundred and twenty-five participants downloaded the app, resulting in 208 eligible participants. Non-Māori/Non-Pacific (78%) and Māori (14%) had the highest downloads. Fifty-four per cent of participants were parents of children under 6-months. These participants were more likely to regularly use the app than those with children older than 6-months (64% vs 36%, P = 0.011). Over half of the participants entered three measures (n = 101, 48%). Of those that completed the follow-up survey (n = 101, 48%), 72 reported that the app helped them better understand how to interpret growth charts. Conclusion The app was acceptable and with minor modifications, has the potential to be an effective tool to support parents understanding of growth trajectories for their children. A larger trial is needed to evaluate if the app can have a measurable impact on increasing knowledge and behaviour, and therefore on preventing childhood overweight and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0246045
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2021


  • Testing
  • Parents' Understanding
  • Child Growth Charts
  • Mobile App


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