Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we doing this study?

Most of us know we need to eat nutritious food, stay active and get good sleep to be healthy.

But the reality is, Canadians aren’t keeping healthy habits. We don’t eat any more vegetables and fruits than we did 30 years ago. Most of us don’t exercise enough to be physically fit. And we are spending too much time sitting still in front of our televisions and computers.

All of these unhealthy habits have consequences. More than half of our population is now overweight or obese, and the same amount live with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression.

The Guelph Family Health Study is testing new ways for kids to learn healthy habits early – habits that can significantly lower your child’s risk for disease now and in the future.

Who can register in the Guelph Family Health Study?

You can register in this study if you:

  • Have at least one child between the ages of 18 months and 5 years.
  • Live in the Guelph or the surrounding area (including Guelph, Rockwood, Fergus, Elora, Mount Forest and Puslinch)

Our programs are designed for families who have children of a certain age. It is important that families who take part in the Guelph Family Health Study meet these criteria, so we can ensure our programs are effective.

What is your definition of family?

We define family as parents and their children who are 18 months to five years of age. Families can have one or many parents. A maximum of two parents from each family can register in this study.

How do I register in this study?

We are currently welcoming families who have at least one child between the ages of 18 months and 5 years and live in Guelph or the surrounding area. If you are interested in joining, please click the JOIN THE STUDY button or you can email the study team at [email protected] if you have any questions about the study.

What if some members of my family don’t want to participate in the study?

We are interested in learning about the whole family and we welcome both parents to participate in the study, when possible. One-parent families are also welcome to participate in the study.

To be eligible for the Guelph Family Health Study, you must have at least one child between the ages of 18 months and 5 years.

Families with two parents participating in the study can receive up to $350 in gift cards over the next year and families with one parent participating in the study can receive up to $200 in gift cards over the next year.

How do I withdraw from this study?

You can withdraw from the study at any time by contacting our study team at 519-824-4120, extension 56168 or [email protected].

What will I have to do if I participate in this study?

If you register in this study, you will be asked to:

  • Provide your consent
  • Complete online registration and questionnaires
  • Visit the University of Guelph for a Health Assessment
  • Track your children’s physical and sleep
  • Provide a saliva sample
  • Optional: provide a blood sample at LifeLabs Medical Laboratories
  • Optional: provide a fecal sample
  • Take steps to improve the health of your family

Families will also be asked to participate in follow-up activities. To learn more about participating in the study, visit what’s required.

How do I complete the diet survey?

The diet survey is completed online. You will receive an email with a unique login for yourself and each of your children enrolled in the study. The survey will prompt you to record everything you and your children have had to eat or drink in the previous 24 hours.

How do you track my child(ren)’s activity and sleep?

Your child(ren)’s physical activity and sleep will be tracked using a device called an activity monitor. This device will be worn on their hip for 7 days and 7 nights. We will also ask you to complete a log of when your child(ren)go to sleep, wake up, nap and take the monitor off.

How do you collect blood samples?

You can choose for your family to provide blood samples for the study. Giving a blood sample is optional and is not a requirement of this study. You and your family can still participate in the study even if you choose not to provide blood samples.

Blood samples for the study are collected by trained and experienced staff at LifeLabs Medical Laboratories at 85 Norfolk Street, Suite 101, in Guelph.  If your family would like to provide blood samples, our study team will make an appointment for your family and meet you at LifeLabs for the blood collection.

Your family should not eat or drink for 12 hours before giving blood samples, so the appointments are usually booked in the morning.  We will provide you with instructions for providing a fasting blood sample prior to your visit.

If you provide a blood sample, it will be tested for sugars, fats and hormones, including glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, cortisol and fatty acids. These tests will help us to measure the sugar and fat in your diet, as well as stress and inflammation in your body.

You may experience the usual pain and bruising that people get when they give blood.  You may also experience dizziness.  Rarely, giving blood can cause an unusually small vein to collapse.

How much blood do I have to give if I participate in this study?

You can choose for your family to provide blood samples for the study. Giving a blood sample is optional and is not a requirement of this study. You and your family can still participate in the study even if you choose not to provide blood samples.

The blood samples collected for this study will be less than 20mL (1 ½ tablespoons) of blood per person.

Blood samples for the study are collected by trained and experienced staff at LifeLabs Medical Laboratories at 85 Norfolk Street, Suite 101, in Guelph. If your family would like to provide blood samples, our study team will make an appointment for your family and meet you at LifeLabs for the blood collection.

How do you collect saliva?

For this test we will ask you and your child to spit several times into a plastic tube. We will ask parents to provide approximately 2mL of saliva and children to provide 0.6mL of saliva. Please do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum for 30 minutes before giving your saliva sample.

Your saliva sample will be used to study your genetic material, or DNA. You were born with your DNA and it affects how your body works. We want to know how your DNA relates to your health behaviours and responses to food. For example, if you have DNA that is associated with not liking vegetables, we want to see if it affects the foods your family eats.

Why do you need saliva and blood samples?

Your saliva sample will be used to study your genetic material, or DNA. You were born with your DNA and it affects how your body works. We want to know how your DNA relates to your health behaviours and responses to food. For example, if you have DNA that is associated with not liking vegetables, we want to see if it affects the foods your family eats.

If you chose to give a blood sample, it will be used to look at the levels of fats, sugars and hormones in your blood.

How do you collect fecal samples?

You can choose for your family to provide fecal samples for the study. Giving a fecal sample is optional and is not a requirement of this study. You and your family can still participate in the study even if you choose not to provide fecal samples.

If you choose to provide fecal samples, we will give you a fecal sample collection kit and instructions for you to use at home. You will be asked to place a small amount of feces into a plastic collection tube. Once you have collected the fecal samples for your family, a member of the study team will come to your home to pick up the samples.

How do you measure body fat and muscle?

Measuring body fat in adults: Our research staff will measure your body fat with the BOD POD™. The BOD POD™ is a machine that uses the displacement of air to determine the composition of your body. The whole test takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, with only 5 minutes spent sitting alone in the BOD POD™. The test is harmless and painless.

For the BODPOD™ test, you will be asked to wear a bathing suit and bathing cap to minimize the air between your clothing, hair and skin. Please bring your bathing suit with you. A clean bathing cap will be provided to you before the test. Please do not eat, drink or exercise for 2 hours prior to the BOD POD™ assessment. Note that there is no water involved with the BOD POD™, you will not get wet.

You may experience claustrophobia while sitting in the BOD POD™. You can exit the BOD POD™ at any time by pressing a button to release the door or by telling research staff that you would to stop the test.

You may feel slightly embarrassed about wearing a bathing suit in the BOD POD™. You can wear a hospital gown immediately before the test. You will be able to change back into your own clothes immediately after the test. The BODPOD™ is located in a private room. Only your family and a member of our study team will be allowed in the room.

An example of Bod Pod test.

An example of Bod Pod test.

Measuring body fat in children: Our research staff will measure your child’s body fat with a bioelectrical impedance analyzer or BIA. For the BIA measure, your child will be asked to remove their right sock and lay down on a bed. Our research staff will clean a small area of your child’s foot and hand with an alcohol wipe. We will then attach small stickers to the top of your child’s right foot and right hand. During a BIA test, a small electric signal is circulated through the body.

BIA measures the resistance of an electrical signal as it travels through the water in your child’s muscle and fat. The more muscle a person has, the more water their body can hold. The greater the amount of water in a person’s body, the easier it is for the current to pass through it. The procedure is safe, painless and results are obtained in minutes.

There is a very small risk that your child’s skin may be sensitive to the glue that is used to place the stickers on their hand and foot. Your child can ask that the patches be removed if they are uncomfortable.

An example of a BIA test.

How will you protect my information and privacy

We have taken many precautions to ensure that the information and samples you provide us will remain secure and private, and that your identity will be protected. For more information, visit privacy.

Will I receive my test results?

The results of your body fat analysis will be provided to you at the health assessment visit, only if requested. The results of your children’s body fat and muscle analyses will not be provided to you because we do not yet have standards for healthy body fat and muscle in this age group.

Your saliva test results will not be provided to you. This is to protect you and your children from having to provide genetic information to a third party, such as an insurance provider or employer.

Some of your blood test results will be provided to you if you request them. Your children’s blood test results will not be provided to you because we do not yet have standards for healthy blood ranges in this age group.

If any of your blood test results are significantly abnormal, they will be reported to you by the study team. If this occurs, you will be encouraged to follow up with you doctor.

What if I have questions about the study or my study results?

If you have questions about the study or your results, you can contact our study team at any time at 519-824-4120, extension 56168 or [email protected].

What will you do with the information from my questionnaire, health assessment and blood test?

With your permission, the study team will keep the results of your questionnaire and health assessment. The study team may also keep your family’s saliva, blood and fecal samples for ten years. These samples may be analyzed by the study team or other researchers in the future. This is because the Guelph Family Health Study is a long-term study that will continue for many years.

We have taken many precautions to ensure that the information and samples that you provide us will remain secure and private, and that your identity will be protected. For more information, visit privacy.

The results of your family’s questionnaires and saliva and blood tests may also be used in publications and at conferences for the purpose of learning. This will happen only after any information that can directly identify you has been removed.

What will I receive for participating in this study?

If you choose to participate in this study, you will be part of an important project that is helping us better understand the human behaviours that affect health. We will use this information to develop programs that reduce the risk for disease in families.

In addition, your family will receive:

  • Six months of health advice from our research experts.
  • A series of grocery gift cards.

Gift cards will be issued to families using the following guidelines:

One Parent Family Two Parent Family
Online Questionnaires $25 $25/parent = $50
Health Assessment $50 $75
Blood sample $25 $25/parent = $50

Your family also will be invited to complete additional assessments every six or 12 months for up to 20 years.

Will you pay for my parking?

By participating in this study, you are volunteering your time to help us create a healthier future for families.

We will pay for your parking at the University of Guelph, where you will bring your family to complete your health assessment visit.

Free street parking is usually available near the LifeLabs Medical Laboratories you will visit, if your family chooses to provide blood samples.

You are responsible for the payment of any parking tickets that you may receive for parking in restricted areas during a study visit.