The BODYSMART DETECTIVE Agency – Engaging young children in Lifestyle Education and behaviour change theory (#210)
Aim: Existing evidence suggests that parents alone be targeted where there is obesity in young children. We aimed to establish and trial an experiential child-centred learning program for children (<11 years) with obesity. We endeavoured to apply a contemporary learning theory approach to modify an existing tertiary level paediatric lifestyle program for children with significant and/or complicated obesity.
11>Method: Retrospective thematic assessment of parent satisfaction surveys from 2012 child age lifestyle programs took place. Overall, the program was highly rated. However, parents consistently commented they would have preferred the program included a healthy lifestyle education component (nutrition knowledge, problem solving and goal setting) for their child, as an addition to the existing physical activity and medical components. The specialist obesity team determined this would be a viable approach that could improve long term outcomes supporting whole family change. The social worker from the obesity team created a working party that developed a program incorporating a child-centred educational component for the young obese child.
Results: The Bodysmart Detective Agency lifestyle program was created. This program provided information on healthy eating, label reading, portion size, screen time and physical activity to children through age appropriate games and activities based around a Detective theme. In addition, the 9x2hr sessions incorporated social and emotional learning (SEL) key competencies such as how to recognise and manage one’s emotions, and a framework to problem solve difficulties and encourage responsible decision making.
Conclusion: The new Bodysmart Detective Agency program was created using the principles of Social and Emotional Learning to teach obese children healthy lifestyle education. The Program has been offered to 2 groups of 8 children. Early assessment of outcomes suggest the program is more effective than a stand alone parent only education program. Ongoing recruitment to the program will allow better understanding of its effects.