UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


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Behavioral Medicine | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Administration | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Preventive Medicine


BACKGROUND: Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is a promising dietary target for childhood obesity prevention. This paper describes the design and methods of a cluster randomized trial of H2GO!, a youth empowerment intervention to prevent childhood obesity through reducing SSB consumption among a low-income, ethnically diverse sample of youth.

METHODS: This cluster randomized controlled trial is an academic-community partnership with the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs (BGC). Ten BGC sites will be randomly assigned to the H2GO! intervention or a wait-list, usual care control. Eligible study participants will be N = 450 parent-child pairs (youth ages 9-12 years and their parents/caregivers) recruited from participating BGCs. The 6-week in-person H2GO! intervention consists of 12 group-based sessions delivered by BGC staff and youth-led activities. An innovative feature of the intervention is the development of youth-produced narratives as a strategy to facilitate youth empowerment and parental engagement. Child outcomes include measured body mass index z scores (zBMI), beverage intake, and youth empowerment. Parent outcomes include beverage intake and availability of SSBs at home. Outcomes will be measured at baseline and at 2, 6, and 12 months. With a 75% retention rate, the study is powered to detect a minimum group difference of 0.1 zBMI units over 12 months.

DISCUSSION: Empowering youth may be a promising intervention approach to prevent childhood obesity through reducing SSB consumption. This intervention was designed to be delivered through BGCs and is hypothesized to be efficacious, relevant, and acceptable for the target population of low-income and ethnically diverse youth.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT04265794 . Registered 11 February 2020.


Childhood obesity, Cluster randomized trial, Design and methods, Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, Youth empowerment

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

DOI of Published Version



Wang ML, Sprague Martinez LS, Weinberg J, Alatorre S, Lemon SC, Rosal MC. A youth empowerment intervention to prevent childhood obesity: design and methods for a cluster randomized trial of the H2GO! program. BMC Public Health. 2021 Sep 15;21(1):1675. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11660-5. PMID: 34525990; PMCID: PMC8441230. Link to article on publisher's site

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BMC public health

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.