Fresh boost for childhood obesity prevention

Caring Futures Institute research into the early prevention of obesity in childhood has been boosted by a new Centre of Research Excellence receiving $2.5 million in funding over five years.

The new Centre of Research Excellence, called Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood, Translate, (EPOCH Translate) will bring together researchers from Flinders University, the University of Sydney and Deakin University, as well as practitioners and policymakers to prevent obesity in children’s’ first five years of life.

One in five Australian children experience being overweight or obesity by the age of five.

Early childhood is also a key time when risk factors such as poor eating habits and physical inactivity are established. Researchers say it’s also a time when children and their families are open to change, and programs are more likely to have sustained effects on their health.

The National Health and Medical Research Council grant will allow Caring Futures Institute researchers to continue current work to develop dietary assessment tools that measure lifestyle behaviours in children under the age of five.

Professor Rebecca Golley.

Caring Futures Institute Deputy Director and EPOCH Translate Chief Investigator, Professor Rebecca Golley alongside Dr Brittany Johnson and Dr Dorota Zarnowiecki have developed a suite of tools that take less than five minutes to complete.

The tools measure diet, diet quality and risk of overweight or obesity across childhood and from as early as six months of age.

The tools are designed to be completed by parents and used by policymakers, researchers, and healthcare practitioners to evoke change in children’s health.

Prof Golley says quick and robust measurement of lifestyle behaviours including diet and exercise in young children is important for monitoring population trends.

“It is also important for evaluating nutrition-promotion and obesity prevention programs,” she says.

“Until now there were few reliable tools that measured diet and other lifestyle behaviours in children that could be used in policy and practice settings.”

Register your interest in the dietary assessment tools here:

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Healthy Start to Life