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The Starting Childhood Obesity Prevention Earlier (SCOPE) project

Overweight and obesity has reached crisis stage, and increasing evidence is demonstrating that prevention in early childhood years is key to stemming the continuous rates of increase. Figures currently indicate that one in five preschool children in Australian are overweight or obese, with rates rising steadily especially among children from lower socio-economic groups. This three year project aimed to implement and trial the framework proposed by the WHO’s International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) to increase collaboration between key stakeholders for the prevention of overweight and obesity among young children in Western Australia. Its key objectives were to: 1) assist WA health, education and community services’ sectors to develop a coherent, feasible, and relevant plan of action for the promotion of healthy weight among young children; 2) pilot within a specific context, one of the interventions identified via this decision making model as most ‘promising’; and 3) determine the extent to which key stakeholders (including policy makers and primary health care providers) and parents feel the intervention offers the potential for overall effectiveness and change.

Based on the IOTF framework, the first phase of this Starting Childhood Obesity Prevention Earlier (SCOPE) project began by providing government and non-government stakeholders with an opportunity to participate in a systematic process to collectively select a feasible plan of action for the promotion of healthy weight among young children. This involved a series of consultative forums, workshops, roundtables and individual meetings with stakeholders and service providers in maternal and child health, early childhood education, child care and primary health care. This resulted in the short listing and identification of a pilot study suitable for Western Australia. The outcome was a unanimous decision to develop a government endorsed, well-publicised online resource for parents focused towards supporting healthy family lifestyles during the perinatal period (pre-birth to one year of age).

The second phase began with interviews and focus groups with pregnant women, parents of children attending playgroups, GPs, child health nurses, midwives, allied health care providers, and parent support organisations. The aim of this phase was to determine parents’ and service providers’ views on what website information regarding healthy family lifestyles is most needed, in what form, and how best it could be presented and promoted.

The third phase involved working with a small advisory committee to develop the Healthy You, Healthy Baby Smartphone App and online resource hosted by the Ngala Early Parenting and Early Childhood support service, with emphasis on the importance of parental role modelling and interactive user self-assessment. This quality assured online resource provides tailored messages to antenatal and postnatal mothers. Users can register to receive e-newsletters and a Smartphone App targeting the mother’s lifestyles and tailored to the developmental stage of their child. The website and App provide practical advice and support for parents and health professionals and can be tailored to the requirements of an individual user. The project’s effectiveness will be evaluated using Google Analytics and online surveys.

Project Duration

2008-2012

Funding Body

Healthway

For further information about this project please contact Dr Lydia Hearn at l.hearn@ecu.edu.au


Researchers

Dr Lydia Hearn
Mrs Margaret Miller
Professor Donna Cross
Ms Ana Gowrea

Staff

Ms Anna Fletcher
Ms Patricia Cardosa

Child Health Promotion Research Centre
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