BeeZee Families is an evidence-based behaviour change programme designed to support families to make sustainable changes and manage the weight of their child/children.
BZ Families is a 17-week healthy lifestyles programme for overweight children and their families. We ensure that we use physical activities that put people on a level playing field. We want to build the competence and enjoyment of physical activity. We use local coaches to ensure direct exit routes into local organisations, removing barriers to future participation and focusing on skill-based training rather than ‘matches/games’. We provide healthy eating sessions that are fun, informative and interactive. We use a behavioural economics approach to helping people make realistic change throughout the programme, including our ‘Habit before the habit’ (Hh) methodology (see appendix 1 for brief overview). Throughout BeeZee Families we use a psycho-social approach to supporting parents and guardians with adult only sessions to understand how things like relationships, conflict, time and other things affect their ability to make changes.
This programme is for overweight or very overweight children and young people aged 5 – 15 and their families. Other significant people (parents, carers/supportive people in their lives) are also encouraged to attend to support and facilitate meaningful, sustainable changes. We want this programme to be about the family and support system that surrounds them.
BeeZee Bodies recognises that parents often have some knowledge of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, but that in daily life they encounter many barriers to changing their behaviour. In recognition of this every component of the BeeZee Bodies programme has an underlying basis in behaviour change theory and associated techniques as recommended by the NICE guidelines for the treatment of obesity (NICE, 2006).
One of the key and defining features of the BeeZee Bodies programme is the emphasis on building self-esteem and self-efficacy of both parents/carers and children in order to facilitate behaviour change (Bandura, 1998). The BeeZee Bodies programme is underpinned by the principles of Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) as there is a comprehensive evidence base between these principles and behaviour change in the context of weight management.
SCT is a psychosocial theory developed to describe health behaviour, notably why people behave in a certain way and what factors might promote a change in behaviour. The theory postulates that human behaviour has multifaceted mediators, including self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations (Bandura, 1998).
We believe self-efficacy is the key driver of behaviour change: unless an individual believes they can produce a desired effect through their actions, they will not be motivated to persevere with a particular change in behaviour. Self -efficacy is influenced by several factors including previous successes, modelling influences, social persuasion and a person’s stress reaction to situations (Bandura, 1998). Therefore social support is important in building self-efficacy and the 17-week BeeZee programme aims to build sustainable local social networks for families.
Additionally the COM-B model is an essential part of our programme basis, understanding the importance of the individual having the capability, opportunity and motivation in order to change a behaviour is key. If an individual is missing one or more of these components the change is unlikely to happen. The focus then has to swaps to things that they can change, instead of focusing on the things that will not change.
We continue to evaluate the psychological techniques used in BeeZee programmes and work with health psychologists to assess the evidence to continually refine these approaches.