Community Based Obesity Prevention in Australia — ASN Events

Community Based Obesity Prevention in Australia (#243)

Jill Whelan 1 , Erin Smith 1 , Penny Love 1 , Anne Romanus 1 , Kristy Bolton 2 , Elizabeth Waters 3 , Tim Gill 4 , John Coveney 5 , Steve Allender 2
  1. CO-OPS Collaboration, Population Health Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia
  2. WHO-Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia
  3. McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne , VIC, Australia
  4. Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  5. Flinders Prevention Promotion and Primary Health Care, Flinders University, Adelaide , SA, Australia

Background: Recent systematic reviews have acknowledged that effective obesity prevention initiatives are more likely to adopt a multi-strategic, multi-level approach. The Australian government has made a significant investment to advance preventive health in Australia through the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health (NPAPH) of $932.7 m. This funding, complemented by state, local and philanthropic partnerships has facilitated a wide array of obesity prevention activity. This paper reports on the size, scope and strategies employed in Australian community-based obesity prevention in 2013.

Methods: A search of relevant government and community websites was conducted. This search followed the funding trail of the NPAPH to identify how each of the funding streams was implemented. It also identified funding specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and where possible community based obesity prevention initiatives operating outside the NPAPH. Where insufficient information was available on websites, personal communication through email was used to solicit further information. This information was then graphically represented on an interactive map of Australia.

Results: This study has so far identified 244 community-based initiatives, the majority of which were funded through the NPAPH. Much of the funding was directed at programmatic responses targeting individual behaviour change with 82% focussing on physical activity, 86% on healthy eating and 74% targeting both. Policy change was a target activity for 8% of programs.

Conclusion: Australian community-based obesity prevention initiatives continue to represent elements of world’s best practice in obesity prevention. The trend suggests a movement towards multi-strategic responses. The Map provides a unique platform which facilitates examination of the Australian obesity prevention activity in 2013 and sets the scene for enhanced exchange of the knowledge and lessons learnt through these obesity prevention initiatives.