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author:("sunburn, Boyd")
1.  Exploring obesogenic environments: the design and development of the migrant obesogenic perception of the environment questionnaire (MOPE-Q) using a sample of Iranian migrants in Australia 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:567.
Although there are a number of studies examining the effect of migration on obesity, these studies tend to focus on the role of acculturation in this relationship. However, there are indications that the change in environment may also be an important factor. Indeed, there is a considerable lack of psychometric tools designed to assess the association between environment and migrant health behaviour. The current study aimed to assess the literature on the link between environment and health for migrants, and on the basis of this information, design and develop the Migrant Obesogenic Perception of the Environment questionnaire (MOPE-Q). The MOPE-Q is the first comprehensive measure of the impact of environmental factors on migrant health behaviour related to physical activity, food habits and body image concern, as well as weight change.
Using a systematic approach, an initial pool of items for the questionnaire was developed and refined on the basis of rigorous content and face validity assessments and factor analysis. Further, reliability tests and test re-test studies were undertaken. Differences between Iranian and Australian environmental factors as they relate to obesogenic behaviour were explored using the developed measure.
A total of 36 items were developed for the MOPE-Q. Principal factor analysis identified three similar factor structures of environmental factors related to obesity (categorized in terms of facilitators, barriers and pressures) for each country. The final questionnaire consisted of four distinct subscales pertaining specifically to the Australian environment and five subscales pertaining to the Iranian environment, accounting for 59% and 63%, respectively, of the total variance in obesity rates. Data suggests that the MOPE-Q is a reliable and valid self-report measure for assessing the relationship between environmental factors linked to obesity and obesogenic behaviour for this particular migrant group.
The variations in environmental factors linked to obesity behaviour between home (Iran) and host (Australia) countries have been incorporated into the MOPE-Q instrument which has shown good psychometric properties. The MOPE-Q can be adapted and applied to other environments and populations to help explain changes in diet, physical activity patterns and body weight in migrant groups as they acculturate.
PMCID: PMC4068171  PMID: 24906418
Environment; Obesity; Migrants;  Iranians ; Iran; Australia; Questionnaire development; Psychometric evaluation
2.  Towards global benchmarking of food environments and policies to reduce obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases: design and methods for nation-wide surveys 
BMJ Open  2014;4(5):e005339.
Unhealthy diets are heavily driven by unhealthy food environments. The International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS) has been established to reduce obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities globally. This paper describes the design and methods of the first-ever, comprehensive national survey on the healthiness of food environments and the public and private sector policies influencing them, as a first step towards global monitoring of food environments and policies.
Methods and analysis
A package of 11 substudies has been identified: (1) food composition, labelling and promotion on food packages; (2) food prices, shelf space and placement of foods in different outlets (mainly supermarkets); (3) food provision in schools/early childhood education (ECE) services and outdoor food promotion around schools/ECE services; (4) density of and proximity to food outlets in communities; food promotion to children via (5) television, (6) magazines, (7) sport club sponsorships, and (8) internet and social media; (9) analysis of the impact of trade and investment agreements on food environments; (10) government policies and actions; and (11) private sector actions and practices. For the substudies on food prices, provision, promotion and retail, ‘environmental equity’ indicators have been developed to check progress towards reducing diet-related health inequalities. Indicators for these modules will be assessed by tertiles of area deprivation index or school deciles. International ‘best practice benchmarks’ will be identified, against which to compare progress of countries on improving the healthiness of their food environments and policies.
This research is highly original due to the very ‘upstream’ approach being taken and its direct policy relevance. The detailed protocols will be offered to and adapted for countries of varying size and income in order to establish INFORMAS globally as a new monitoring initiative to reduce obesity and diet-related NCDs.
PMCID: PMC4025455  PMID: 24833697
monitoring; food policy; global health; non-communicable diseases; obesity
3.  Parental encouragement of healthy behaviors: adolescent weight status and health-related quality of life 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:369.
Obesity is a major health concern for adolescents, with one in four being overweight or obese in Australia. The purpose of this study was to examine the moderation effect of parental encouragement of healthy behaviors on the relationship between adolescent weight status and Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL).
Baseline data were collected from 3,040 adolescents participating in the It’s Your Move project, conducted in the Barwon South-West region of Victoria, in 2005. The Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory was used to measure HRQoL, and parental encouragement was derived from purposely designed self-report items. Weight status was calculated according to World Health Organization growth standards from measured weight and height. Linear regression analyses modeled direct relationships and interaction terms. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, physical activity level, nutrition and school attended.
Higher levels of parental encouragement, as compared to low encouragement, were positively associated with higher global HRQoL scores, particularly in the physical functioning domain. To a lesser degree, high parental encouragement was also associated with higher scores on the psychosocial domain. Obese weight status showed a significant association with lower HRQoL on all scales. Parental encouragement significantly moderated the inverse relationship between overweight status and physical wellbeing.
Findings suggest that parental encouragement of healthy behavior is associated with increased HRQoL scores for adolescents. Whilst more research is needed to validate the significant interaction effect, main effects suggest that parental encouragement of healthy behavior is an important factor in adolescent wellbeing and should be considered when developing prevention and clinical interventions for obesity.
PMCID: PMC3996491  PMID: 24735656
Adolescence; Obesity; Wellbeing; Quality of life; Parent-child relations; Social support
4.  Creating healthy food environments through global benchmarking of government nutrition policies and food industry practices 
Unhealthy processed food products are increasingly dominating over healthy foods, making food and nutrition environments unhealthier. Development and implementation of strong government healthy food policies is currently being circumvented in many countries by powerful food industry lobbying. In order to increase accountability of both governments and the private sector for their actions, and improve the healthiness of food environments, INFORMAS (the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support) has recently been founded to systematically and comprehensively monitor food environments and policies in countries of varying size and income. This will enable INFORMAS to rank both governments and private sector companies globally according to their actions on food environments. Identification of those countries which have the healthiest food and nutrition policies and using them as international benchmarks against which national progress towards best practice can be assessed, should support reductions in global obesity and diet-related NCDs.
PMCID: PMC3974193  PMID: 24594359
5.  Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight 
Lancet  2011;378(9793):10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60812-X.
Obesity interventions can result in weight loss, but accurate prediction of the bodyweight time course requires properly accounting for dynamic energy imbalances. In this report, we describe a mathematical modelling approach to adult human metabolism that simulates energy expenditure adaptations during weight loss. We also present a web-based simulator for prediction of weight change dynamics. We show that the bodyweight response to a change of energy intake is slow, with half times of about 1 year. Furthermore, adults with greater adiposity have a larger expected weight loss for the same change of energy intake, and to reach their steady-state weight will take longer than it would for those with less initial body fat. Using a population-averaged model, we calculated the energy-balance dynamics corresponding to the development of the US adult obesity epidemic. A small persistent average daily energy imbalance gap between intake and expenditure of about 30 kJ per day underlies the observed average weight gain. However, energy intake must have risen to keep pace with increased expenditure associated with increased weight. The average increase of energy intake needed to sustain the increased weight (the maintenance energy gap) has amounted to about 0·9 MJ per day and quantifies the public health challenge to reverse the obesity epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3880593  PMID: 21872751
6.  Dynamics of childhood growth and obesity: development and validation of a quantitative mathematical model 
Clinicians and policy makers need the ability to predict quantitatively how childhood bodyweight will respond to obesity interventions.
We developed and validated a mathematical model of childhood energy balance that accounts for healthy growth and development of obesity, and that makes quantitative predictions about weight-management interventions. The model was calibrated to reference body composition data in healthy children and validated by comparing model predictions with data other than those used to build the model.
The model accurately simulated the changes in body composition and energy expenditure reported in reference data during healthy growth, and predicted increases in energy intake from ages 5–18 years of roughly 1200 kcal per day in boys and 900 kcal per day in girls. Development of childhood obesity necessitated a substantially greater excess energy intake than for development of adult obesity. Furthermore, excess energy intake in overweight and obese children calculated by the model greatly exceeded the typical energy balance calculated on the basis of growth charts. At the population level, the excess weight of US children in 2003–06 was associated with a mean increase in energy intake of roughly 200 kcal per day per child compared with similar children in 1976–80. The model also suggests that therapeutic windows when children can outgrow obesity without losing weight might exist, especially during periods of high growth potential in boys who are not severely obese.
This model quantifies the energy excess underlying obesity and calculates the necessary intervention magnitude to achieve bodyweight change in children. Policy makers and clinicians now have a quantitative technique for understanding the childhood obesity epidemic and planning interventions to control it.
PMCID: PMC3857695  PMID: 24349967
7.  Sizing the association between lifestyle behaviours and fatness in a large, heterogeneous sample of youth of multiple ethnicities from 4 countries 
The magnitude of the relationship between lifestyle risk factors for obesity and adiposity is not clear. The aim of this study was to clarify this in order to determine the level of importance of lifestyle factors in obesity aetiology.
A cross-sectional analysis was carried out on data on youth who were not trying to change weight (n = 5714), aged 12 to 22 years and from 8 ethnic groups living in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Tonga. Demographic and lifestyle data were measured by questionnaires. Fatness was measured by body mass index (BMI), BMI z-score and bioimpedance analysis, which was used to estimate percent body fat and total fat mass (TFM). Associations between lifestyle and body composition variables were examined using linear regression and forest plots.
TV watching was positively related to fatness in a dose-dependent manner. Strong, dose-dependent associations were observed between fatness and soft drink consumption (positive relationship), breakfast consumption (inverse relationship) and after-school physical activity (inverse relationship). Breakfast consumption-fatness associations varied in size across ethnic groups. Lifestyle risk factors for obesity were associated with percentage differences in body composition variables that were greatest for TFM and smallest for BMI.
Lifestyle factors were most strongly related to TFM, which suggests that studies that use BMI alone to quantify fatness underestimate the full effect of lifestyle on adiposity. This study clarifies the size of lifestyle-fatness relationships observed in previous studies.
PMCID: PMC3853713  PMID: 24119635
Television; Soft drink; Breakfast; Physical activity; Obesity; Meta-analysis
8.  Knowledge translation strategies to improve the use of evidence in public health decision making in local government: intervention design and implementation plan 
Knowledge translation strategies are an approach to increase the use of evidence within policy and practice decision-making contexts. In clinical and health service contexts, knowledge translation strategies have focused on individual behavior change, however the multi-system context of public health requires a multi-level, multi-strategy approach. This paper describes the design of and implementation plan for a knowledge translation intervention for public health decision making in local government.
Four preliminary research studies contributed findings to the design of the intervention: a systematic review of knowledge translation intervention effectiveness research, a scoping study of knowledge translation perspectives and relevant theory literature, a survey of the local government public health workforce, and a study of the use of evidence-informed decision-making for public health in local government. A logic model was then developed to represent the putative pathways between intervention inputs, processes, and outcomes operating between individual-, organizational-, and system-level strategies. This formed the basis of the intervention plan.
The systematic and scoping reviews identified that effective and promising strategies to increase access to research evidence require an integrated intervention of skill development, access to a knowledge broker, resources and tools for evidence-informed decision making, and networking for information sharing. Interviews and survey analysis suggested that the intervention needs to operate at individual and organizational levels, comprising workforce development, access to evidence, and regular contact with a knowledge broker to increase access to intervention evidence; develop skills in appraisal and integration of evidence; strengthen networks; and explore organizational factors to build organizational cultures receptive to embedding evidence in practice. The logic model incorporated these inputs and strategies with a set of outcomes to measure the intervention’s effectiveness based on the theoretical frameworks, evaluation studies, and decision-maker experiences.
Documenting the design of and implementation plan for this knowledge translation intervention provides a transparent, theoretical, and practical approach to a complex intervention. It provides significant insights into how practitioners might engage with evidence in public health decision making. While this intervention model was designed for the local government context, it is likely to be applicable and generalizable across sectors and settings.
Trial registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Register ACTRN12609000953235.
PMCID: PMC3853093  PMID: 24107358
Knowledge translation; Evidence; Public health; Decision-making
9.  Participants’ perceptions of a knowledge-brokering strategy to facilitate evidence-informed policy-making in Fiji 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:725.
Evidence-informed policy-making (EIPM) is optimal when evidence-producers (researchers) and policy developers work collaboratively to ensure the production and use of the best available evidence. This paper examined participants’ perceptions of knowledge-brokering strategies used in the TROPIC (Translational Research in Obesity Prevention in Communities) project to facilitate the use of obesity-related evidence in policy development in Fiji.
Knowledge-brokers delivered a 12-18 month programme comprising workshops targeting EIPM skills and practical support for developing evidence-informed policy briefs to reduce obesity. The programme was tailored to each of the six participating organizations. Knowledge-brokering strategies included negotiating topics that were aligned to the goals of individual organizations, monitoring and evaluating time-management skills, accommodating other organizational and individual priorities, delivering practical sessions on use of appropriate research tools and supporting individual writing of policy briefs. Two qualitative methods were used to examine individuals’ perceptions of skills obtained, opportunities afforded by the TROPIC project, facilitators and inhibiters to planned policy brief development and suggestions for improved programme delivery. Forty-nine participants completed an electronic word table and then participated in a semi-structured interview. An independent interviewer conducted structured interviews with a high-ranking officer in each organization to examine their perceptions of TROPIC engagement strategies. Data were analyzed descriptively and thematically, with the first author and another experienced qualitative researcher analyzing data sets separately, and then combining analyses.
Many participants believed that they had increased their skills in acquiring, assessing, adapting and applying evidence, writing policy briefs and presenting evidence-based arguments to higher levels. Many participants preferred one-to-one meetings to group activities to ensure early resolution of developing issues and to refine policy briefs. Perceived barriers to EIPM were lack of knowledge about data sources, inadequate time to develop evidence-informed briefs, and insufficient resources for accessing and managing evidence.
An innovative knowledge-brokering approach utilizing skill development and mentorship facilitated individual EIPM skills and policy brief development. The TROPIC model could stimulate evidence-based policy action relating to obesity prevention and other policy areas in other Pacific countries and elsewhere.
PMCID: PMC3765184  PMID: 23919672
Knowledge-brokering strategies; Knowledge exchange; Evidence-informed policy-making; Perceived barriers
10.  Knowledge brokering between researchers and policymakers in Fiji to develop policies to reduce obesity: a process evaluation 
The importance of using research evidence in decisionmaking at the policy level has been increasingly recognized. However, knowledge brokering to engage researchers and policymakers in government and non-government organizations is challenging. This paper describes and evaluates the knowledge exchange processes employed by the Translational Research on Obesity Prevention in Communities (TROPIC) project that was conducted from July 2009 to April 2012 in Fiji. TROPIC aimed to enhance: the evidence-informed decisionmaking skills of policy developers; and awareness and utilization of local and other obesity-related evidence to develop policies that could potentially improve the nation’s food and physical activity environments. The specific research question was: Can a knowledge brokering approach advance evidence-informed policy development to improve eating and physical activity environments in Fiji.
The intervention comprised: recruiting organizations and individuals; mapping policy environments; analyzing organizational capacity and support for evidence-informed policymaking (EIPM); developing EIPM skills; and facilitating development of evidence-informed policy briefs. Flexible timetabling of activities was essential to accommodate multiple competing priorities at both individual and organizational levels. Process diaries captured the duration, frequency and type of each interaction and/or activity between the knowledge brokering team and participants or their organizations.
Partnerships were formalized with high-level officers in each of the six participating organization. Participants (n = 49) developed EIPM skills (acquire, assess, adapt and apply evidence) through a series of four workshops and applied this knowledge to formulate briefs with ongoing one-to-one support from TROPIC team members. A total of 55% of participants completed the 12 to18 month intervention, and 63% produced one or more briefs (total = 20) that were presented to higher-level officers within their organizations. The knowledge brokering team spent an average of 30 hours per participant during the entire TROPIC process.
Active engagement of participating organizations from the outset resulted in strong individual and organizational commitment to the project. The TROPIC initiative provided a win-win situation, with participants expanding skills in EIPM and policy development, organizations increasing EIPM capacity, and researchers providing data to inform policy.
PMCID: PMC3703278  PMID: 23816188
Knowledge Exchange; Knowledge Brokering; Evidence-informed Policymaking; Evidence-informed Decisionmaking; Obesity Prevention
11.  Acculturation and obesity among migrant populations in high income countries – a systematic review 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:458.
There is evidence to suggest that immigrant populations from low or medium-income countries to high income countries show a significant change in obesogenic behaviors in the host society, and that these changes are associated with acculturation. However, the results of studies vary depending on how acculturation is measured. The objective of this study is to systematically review the evidence on the relationship between acculturation - as measured with a standardized acculturation scale - and overweight/obesity among adult migrants from low/middle countries to high income countries.
A systematic review of relevant studies was undertaken using six EBSCOhost databases and following the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination’s Guidance for Undertaking Reviews in Health Care.
The initial search identified 1135 potentially relevant publications, of which only nine studies met the selection criteria. All of the studies were from the US with migrant populations from eight different countries. Six studies employed bi-directional acculturation scales and three used uni-directional scales. Six studies indicated positive general associations between higher acculturation and body mass index (BMI), and three studies reported that higher acculturation was associated with lower BMI, as mainly among women.
Despite the small number of studies, a number of potential explanatory hypotheses were developed for these emerging patterns. The ‘Healthy Migrant Effect’ may diminish with greater acculturation as the host culture potentially promotes more unhealthy weight gain than heritage cultures. This appears particularly so for men and a rapid form of nutrition transition represents a likely contributor. The inconsistent results observed for women may be due to the interplay of cultural influences on body image, food choices and physical activity. That is, the Western ideal of a slim female body and higher values placed on physical activity and fitness may counteract the obesogenic food environment for female migrants.
PMCID: PMC3654930  PMID: 23663279
Acculturation; Acculturation scale; Immigration; BMI; Diet
12.  Methods for the evaluation of the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food program, Australia 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:411.
Community-based programs aimed at improving cooking skills, cooking confidence and individual eating behaviours have grown in number over the past two decades. Whilst some evidence exists to support their effectiveness, only small behavioural changes have been reported and limitations in study design may have impacted on results.
This paper describes the first evaluation of the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Program (JMoF) Australia, in Ipswich, Queensland. JMoF Australia is a community-based cooking skills program open to the general public consisting of 1.5 hour classes weekly over a 10 week period, based on the program of the same name originating in the United Kingdom.
A mixed methods study design is proposed. Given the programmatic implementation of JMoF in Ipswich, the quantitative study is a non-randomised, pre-post design comparing participants undergoing the program with a wait-list control group. There will be two primary outcome measures: (i) change in cooking confidence (self-efficacy) and (ii) change in self-reported mean vegetable intake (serves per day). Secondary outcome measures will include change in individual cooking and eating behaviours and psycho-social measures such as social connectedness and self-esteem. Repeated measures will be collected at baseline, program completion (10 weeks) and 6 months follow up from program completion. A sample of 250 participants per group will be recruited for the evaluation to detect a mean change of 0.5 serves a day of vegetables at 80% power (0.5% significance level). Data analysis will assess the magnitude of change of these variables both within and between groups and use sub group analysis to explore the relationships between socio-demographic characteristics and outcomes.
The qualitative study will be a longitudinal design consisting of semi-structured interviews with approximately 10-15 participants conducted at successive time points. An inductive thematic analysis will be conducted to explore social, attitudinal and behavioural changes experienced by program participants.
This evaluation will contribute to the evidence of whether cooking programs work in terms of improving health and wellbeing and the underlying mechanisms which may lead to positive behaviour change.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Trial registration number: ACTRN12611001209987.
PMCID: PMC3655061  PMID: 23631683
13.  An analysis of potential barriers and enablers to regulating the television marketing of unhealthy foods to children at the state government level in Australia 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1123.
In Australia there have been many calls for government action to halt the effects of unhealthy food marketing on children's health, yet implementation has not occurred. The attitudes of those involved in the policy-making process towards regulatory intervention governing unhealthy food marketing are not well understood. The objective of this research was to understand the perceptions of senior representatives from Australian state and territory governments, statutory authorities and non-government organisations regarding the feasibility of state-level government regulation of television marketing of unhealthy food to children in Australia.
Data from in-depth semi-structured interviews with senior representatives from state and territory government departments, statutory authorities and non-government organisations (n=22) were analysed to determine participants' views about regulation of television marketing of unhealthy food to children at the state government level. Data were analysed using content and thematic analyses.
Regulation of television marketing of unhealthy food to children was supported as a strategy for obesity prevention. Barriers to implementing regulation at the state level were: the perception that regulation of television advertising is a Commonwealth, not state/territory, responsibility; the power of the food industry and; the need for clear evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of regulation. Evidence of community support for regulation was also cited as an important factor in determining feasibility.
The regulation of unhealthy food marketing to children is perceived to be a feasible strategy for obesity prevention however barriers to implementation at the state level exist. Those involved in state-level policy making generally indicated a preference for Commonwealth-led regulation. This research suggests that implementation of regulation of the television marketing of unhealthy food to children should ideally occur under the direction of the Commonwealth government. However, given that regulation is technically feasible at the state level, in the absence of Commonwealth action, states/territories could act independently. The relevance of our findings is likely to extend beyond Australia as unhealthy food marketing to children is a global issue.
PMCID: PMC3572413  PMID: 23272940
Unhealthy food; Regulation; Government; Children; Marketing; Advertising
14.  Health-Related Quality of Life Is Low in Secondary School Children in Fiji 
The health and wellbeing of children in lower-income countries is the focus of much international effort, yet there has been very little direct measurement of this. Objective. The current objective was to study the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a general population of secondary school children in Fiji, a low middle-income country in the Pacific. Methods. Self-reported HRQoL was measured by the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0 in 8947 school children (aged 12–18 years) from 18 secondary schools on Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. HRQoL in Fiji was compared to that of school-aged children in 13 high- and upper middle-income countries. Results. The school children in Fiji had lower HRQoL than the children in the 13 comparison countries, with consistently lower physical, emotional, social, and school functioning and wellbeing. HRQoL was particularly low amongst girls and Indigenous Fijians. Conclusions. These findings raise concerns about the general functioning and wellbeing of school children in Fiji. The consistently low HRQoL across all core domains suggests pervasive underlying determinants. Investigation of the potential determinants in Fiji and validation of the current results in Fiji and other lower-income countries are important avenues for future research.
PMCID: PMC3523139  PMID: 23304170
15.  Regulation to Create Environments Conducive to Physical Activity: Understanding the Barriers and Facilitators at the Australian State Government Level 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e42831.
Policy and regulatory interventions aimed at creating environments more conducive to physical activity (PA) are an important component of strategies to improve population levels of PA. However, many potentially effective policies are not being broadly implemented. This study sought to identify potential policy/regulatory interventions targeting PA environments, and barriers/facilitators to their implementation at the Australian state/territory government level.
In-depth interviews were conducted with senior representatives from state/territory governments, statutory authorities and non-government organisations (n = 40) to examine participants': 1) suggestions for regulatory interventions to create environments more conducive to PA; 2) support for preselected regulatory interventions derived from a literature review. Thematic and constant comparative analyses were conducted.
Policy interventions most commonly suggested by participants fell into two areas: 1) urban planning and provision of infrastructure to promote active travel; 2) discouraging the use of private motorised vehicles. Of the eleven preselected interventions presented to participants, interventions relating to walkability/cycling and PA facilities received greatest support. Interventions involving subsidisation (of public transport, PA-equipment) and the provision of more public transport infrastructure received least support. These were perceived as not economically viable or unlikely to increase PA levels. Dominant barriers were: the powerful ‘road lobby’, weaknesses in the planning system and the cost of potential interventions. Facilitators were: the provision of evidence, collaboration across sectors, and synergies with climate change/environment agendas.
This study points to how difficult it will be to achieve policy change when there is a powerful ‘road lobby’ and government investment prioritises road infrastructure over PA-promoting infrastructure. It highlights the pivotal role of the planning and transport sectors in implementing PA-promoting policy, however suggests the need for clearer guidelines and responsibilities for state and local government levels in these areas. Health outcomes need to be given more direct consideration and greater priority within non-health sectors.
PMCID: PMC3459936  PMID: 23028434
16.  Consumption patterns of sweet drinks in a population of Australian children and adolescents (2003–2008) 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:771.
Intake of sweet drinks has previously been associated with the development of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. The present study aimed to assess the consumption pattern of sweet drinks in a population of children and adolescents in Victoria, Australia.
Data on 1,604 children and adolescents (4–18 years) from the comparison groups of two quasi-experimental intervention studies from Victoria, Australia were analysed. Sweet drink consumption (soft drink and fruit juice/cordial) was assessed as one day’s intake and typical intake over the last week or month at two time points between 2003 and 2008 (mean time between measurement: 2.2 years).
Assessed using dietary recalls, more than 70% of the children and adolescents consumed sweet drinks, with no difference between age groups (p = 0.28). The median intake among consumers was 500 ml and almost a third consumed more than 750 ml per day. More children and adolescents consumed fruit juice/cordial (69%) than soft drink (33%) (p < 0.0001) and in larger volumes (median intake fruit juice/cordial: 500 ml and soft drink: 375 ml). Secular changes in sweet drink consumption were observed with a lower proportion of children and adolescents consuming sweet drinks at time 2 compared to time 1 (significant for age group 8 to <10 years, p = 0.001).
The proportion of Australian children and adolescents from the state of Victoria consuming sweet drinks has been stable or decreasing, although a high proportion of this sample consumed sweet drinks, especially fruit juice/cordial at both time points.
PMCID: PMC3549827  PMID: 22966937
Sweet beverages; Soft drink; Children and adolescents
17.  Changing the Future of Obesity: Science, Policy and Action 
Lancet  2011;378(9793):838-847.
The global obesity epidemic has been on the rise for four decades, yet sustained prevention efforts have barely begun. An emerging science using quantitative models has provided key insights into the dynamics of this epidemic, and made it possible to combine different pieces of evidence and calculate the impact of behaviors, interventions and policies at multiple levels – from person to population. Forecasts indicate large effects of high levels of obesity on future population health and economic outcomes. Energy gap models have quantified the relationships of changes in energy intake and expenditure to weight change, and documented the dominant role of increasing intake on obesity prevalence. The empirical evidence base for effective interventions is limited but growing. Several cost-effective policies are identified that governments should prioritize for implementation.
Systems science provides a framework for organizing the complexity of forces driving the obesity epidemic and has important implications for policy-makers. Multiple players (including governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society) need to contribute complementary actions in a coordinated approach. Priority actions include policies to improve the food and built environments, cross-cutting actions (such as leadership, health-in-all policies, and monitoring), and much greater funding for prevention programs. Increased investment in population obesity monitoring would improve the accuracy of forecasts and evaluations. Embedding actions within existing systems in both health and non-health sectors (trade, agriculture, transport, urban planning, development) can greatly increase impact and sustainability. We call for a sustained worldwide effort to monitor, prevent and control obesity.
PMCID: PMC3417037  PMID: 21872752
18.  Knowledge exchange in the Pacific: The TROPIC (Translational Research into Obesity Prevention Policies for Communities) project 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:552.
Policies targeting obesogenic environments and behaviours are critical to counter rising obesity rates and lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Policies are likely to be most effective and enduring when they are based on the best available evidence. Evidence-informed policy making is especially challenging in countries with limited resources. The Pacific TROPIC (Translational Research for Obesity Prevention in Communities) project aims to implement and evaluate a tailored knowledge-brokering approach to evidence-informed policy making to address obesity in Fiji, a Pacific nation challenged by increasingly high rates of obesity and concomitant NCDs.
The TROPIC project draws on the concept of ‘knowledge exchange’ between policy developers (individuals; organisations) and researchers to deliver a knowledge broking programme that maps policy environments, conducts workshops on evidence-informed policy making, supports the development of evidence-informed policy briefs, and embeds evidence-informed policy making into organisational culture. Recruitment of government and nongovernment organisational representatives will be based on potential to: develop policies relevant to obesity, reach broad audiences, and commit to resourcing staff and building a culture that supports evidence-informed policy development. Workshops will increase awareness of both obesity and policy cycles, as well as develop participants’ skills in accessing, assessing and applying relevant evidence to policy briefs. The knowledge-broking team will then support participants to: 1) develop evidence-informed policy briefs that are both commensurate with national and organisational plans and also informed by evidence from the Pacific Obesity Prevention in Communities project and elsewhere; and 2) collaborate with participating organisations to embed evidence-informed policy making structures and processes. This knowledge broking initiative will be evaluated via data from semi-structured interviews, a validated self-assessment tool, process diaries and outputs.
Public health interventions have rarely targeted evidence-informed policy making structures and processes to reduce obesity and NCDs. This study will empirically advance understanding of knowledge broking processes to extend evidence-informed policy making skills and develop a suite of national obesity-related policies that can potentially improve population health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3444395  PMID: 22830984
Policy; Obesity; Knowledge exchange; Knowledge broker; Pacific
19.  A Prospective Study of Diet Quality and Mental Health in Adolescents 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24805.
A number of cross-sectional and prospective studies have now been published demonstrating inverse relationships between diet quality and the common mental disorders in adults. However, there are no existing prospective studies of this association in adolescents, the onset period of most disorders, limiting inferences regarding possible causal relationships.
In this study, 3040 Australian adolescents, aged 11–18 years at baseline, were measured in 2005–6 and 2007–8. Information on diet and mental health was collected by self-report and anthropometric data by trained researchers.
There were cross-sectional, dose response relationships identified between measures of both healthy (positive) and unhealthy (inverse) diets and scores on the emotional subscale of the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL), where higher scores mean better mental health, before and after adjustments for age, gender, socio-economic status, dieting behaviours, body mass index and physical activity. Higher healthy diet scores at baseline also predicted higher PedsQL scores at follow-up, while higher unhealthy diet scores at baseline predicted lower PedsQL scores at follow-up. Improvements in diet quality were mirrored by improvements in mental health over the follow-up period, while deteriorating diet quality was associated with poorer psychological functioning. Finally, results did not support the reverse causality hypothesis.
This study highlights the importance of diet in adolescence and its potential role in modifying mental health over the life course. Given that the majority of common mental health problems first manifest in adolescence, intervention studies are now required to test the effectiveness of preventing the common mental disorders through dietary modification.
PMCID: PMC3177848  PMID: 21957462
20.  Process evaluation of a community-based adolescent obesity prevention project in Tonga 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:284.
The rising burden of obesity in Tonga is alarming. The promotion of healthy behaviours and environments requires immediate urgent action and a multi-sectoral approach. A three-year community based study titled the Ma'alahi Youth Project (MYP) conducted in Tonga from 2005-2008 aimed to increase the capacity of the whole community (schools, churches, parents and adolescents) to promote healthy eating and regular physical activity and to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity amongst youth and their families. This paper reflects on the process evaluation for MYP, against a set of Best Practice Principles for community-based obesity prevention.
MYP was managed by the Fiji School of Medicine. A team of five staff in Tonga were committed to planning, implementation and evaluation of a strategic plan, the key planks of which were developed during a two day community workshop. Intervention activities were delivered in villages, churches and schools, on the main island of Tongatapu. Process evaluation data covering the resource utilisation associated with all intervention activities were collected, and analysed by dose, frequency and reach for specific strategies. The action plan included three standard objectives around capacity building, social marketing and evaluation; four nutrition; two physical activity objectives; and one around championing key people as role models.
While the interventions included a wide mix of activities straddling across all of these objectives and in both school and village settings, there was a major focus on the social marketing and physical activity objectives. The intervention reach, frequency and dose varied widely across all activities, and showed no consistent patterns.
The adolescent obesity interventions implemented as part of the MYP program comprised a wide range of activities conducted in multiple settings, touched a broad spectrum of the population (wider than the target group), but the dose and frequency of activities were generally insufficient and not sustained. Also the project confirmed that, while the MYP resulted in increased community awareness of healthy behaviours, Tonga is still in its infancy in terms of conducting public health research and lacks research infrastructure and capacity.
PMCID: PMC3098171  PMID: 21549018
21.  The development of a network for community-based obesity prevention: the CO-OPS Collaboration 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:132.
Community-based interventions are a promising approach and an important component of a comprehensive response to obesity. In this paper we describe the Collaboration of COmmunity-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS Collaboration) in Australia as an example of a collaborative network to enhance the quality and quantity of obesity prevention action at the community level. The core aims of the CO-OPS Collaboration are to: identify and analyse the lessons learned from a range of community-based initiatives aimed at tackling obesity, and; to identify the elements that make community-based obesity prevention initiatives successful and share the knowledge gained with other communities.
Key activities of the collaboration to date have included the development of a set of Best Practice Principles and knowledge translation and exchange activities to promote the application (or use) of evidence, evaluation and analysis in practice.
The establishment of the CO-OPS Collaboration is a significant step toward strengthening action in this area, by bringing together research, practice and policy expertise to promote best practice, high quality evaluation and knowledge translation and exchange. Future development of the network should include facilitation of further evidence generation and translation drawing from process, impact and outcome evaluation of existing community-based interventions.
The lessons presented in this paper may help other networks like CO-OPS as they emerge around the globe. It is important that networks integrate with each other and share the experience of creating these networks.
PMCID: PMC3053245  PMID: 21349185
22.  An exploratory cluster randomised controlled trial of knowledge translation strategies to support evidence-informed decision-making in local governments (The KT4LG study) 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:34.
Childhood overweight and obesity is the most prevalent and, arguably, politically complex child health problem internationally. Governments, communities and industry have important roles to play, and are increasingly expected to deliver an evidence-informed system-wide prevention program. However, efforts are impeded by a lack of organisational access to and use of research evidence. This study aims to identify feasible, acceptable and ideally, effective knowledge translation (KT) strategies to increase evidence-informed decision-making in local governments, within the context of childhood obesity prevention as a national policy priority.
This paper describes the methods for KT4LG, a cluster randomised controlled trial which is exploratory in nature, given the limited evidence base and methodological advances. KT4LG aims to examine a program of KT strategies to increase the use of research evidence in informing public health decisions in local governments. KT4LG will also assess the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. The intervention program comprises a facilitated program of evidence awareness, access to tailored research evidence, critical appraisal skills development, networking and evidence summaries and will be compared to provision of evidence summaries alone in the control program. 28 local governments were randomised to intervention or control, using computer generated numbers, stratified by budget tertile (high, medium or low). Questionnaires will be used to measure impact, costs, and outcomes, and key informant interviews will be used to examine processes, feasibility, and experiences. Policy tracer studies will be included to examine impact of intervention on policies within relevant government policy documents.
Knowledge translation intervention studies with a focus on public health and prevention are very few in number. Thus, this study will provide essential data on the experience of program implementation and evaluation of a system-integrated intervention program employed within the local government public health context. Standardised programs of system, organisational and individual KT strategies have not been described or rigorously evaluated. As such, the findings will make a significant contribution to understanding whether a facilitated program of KT strategies hold promise for facilitating evidence-informed public health decision making within complex multisectoral government organisations.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12609000953235
PMCID: PMC3034678  PMID: 21226966
23.  Increasing community capacity to prevent childhood obesity: challenges, lessons learned and results from the Romp & Chomp intervention 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:522.
Obesity is a major public health issue; however, only limited evidence is available about effective ways to prevent obesity, particularly in early childhood. Romp & Chomp was a community-wide obesity prevention intervention conducted in Geelong Australia with a target group of 12,000 children aged 0-5 years. The intervention had an environmental and capacity building focus and we have recently demonstrated that the prevalence of overweight/obesity was lower in intervention children, post-intervention. Capacity building is defined as the development of knowledge, skills, commitment, structures, systems and leadership to enable effective health promotion and the aim of this study was to determine if the capacity of the Geelong community, represented by key stakeholder organisations, to support healthy eating and physical activity for young children was increased after Romp & Chomp.
A mixed methods evaluation with three data sources was utilised. 1) Document analysis comprised assessment of the documented formative and intervention activities against a capacity building framework (five domains: Partnerships, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Workforce Development, and Organisational Development); 2) Thematic analysis of key informant interviews (n = 16); and 3) the quantitative Community Capacity Index Survey.
Document analysis showed that the majority of the capacity building activities addressed the Partnerships, Resource Allocation and Organisational Development domains of capacity building, with a lack of activity in the Leadership and Workforce Development domains. The thematic analysis revealed the establishment of sustainable partnerships, use of specialist advice, and integration of activities into ongoing formal training for early childhood workers. Complex issues also emerged from the key informant interviews regarding the challenges of limited funding, high staff turnover, changing governance structures, lack of high level leadership and unclear communication strategies. The Community Capacity Index provided further evidence that the project implementation network achieved a moderate level of capacity.
Romp & Chomp increased the capacity of organisations, settings and services in the Geelong community to support healthy eating and physical activity for young children. Despite this success there are important learnings from this mixed methods evaluation that should inform current and future community-based public health and health promotion initiatives.
Trial Registration Number
PMCID: PMC2941686  PMID: 20807410
24.  The process evaluation of It's Your Move!, an Australian adolescent community-based obesity prevention project 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:448.
Evidence on interventions for preventing unhealthy weight gain in adolescents is urgently needed. The aim of this paper is to describe the process evaluation for a three-year (2005-2008) project conducted in five secondary schools in the East Geelong/Bellarine region of Victoria, Australia. The project, 'It's Your Move!' aimed to reduce unhealthy weight gain by promoting healthy eating patterns, regular physical activity, healthy body weight, and body size perception amongst youth; and improve the capacity of families, schools, and community organisations to sustain the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity in the region.
The project was supported by Deakin University (training and evaluation), a Reference Committee (strategic direction, budgetary approval and monitoring) and a Project Management Committee (project delivery). A workshop of students, teachers and other stakeholders formulated a 10-point action plan, which was then translated into strategies and initiatives specific to each school by the School Project Officers (staff members released from teaching duties one day per week) and trained Student Ambassadors. Baseline surveys informed intervention development. Process data were collected on all intervention activities and these were collated and enumerated, where possible, into a set of mutually exclusive tables to demonstrate the types of strategies and the dose, frequency and reach of intervention activities.
The action plan included three guiding objectives, four on nutrition, two on physical activity and one on body image. The process evaluation data showed that a mix of intervention strategies were implemented, including social marketing, one-off events, lunch time and curriculum programs, improvements in infrastructure, and healthy school food policies. The majority of the interventions were implemented in schools and focused on capacity building and healthy eating strategies as physical activity practices were seen by the teachers as already meeting students' needs.
While substantial health-promoting activities were conducted (especially related to healthy eating), there remain further opportunities for secondary schools to use a whole-of-school approach through the school curriculum, environment, policies and ethos to improve healthy eating, physical activity and healthy body perceptions in youth. To achieve this, significant, sustained leadership will be required within the education sector generally and within schools specifically.
PMCID: PMC2920280  PMID: 20670452
25.  Evaluation of the childhood obesity prevention program Kids - 'Go for your life' 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:288.
Kids - 'Go for your life' (K-GFYL) is an award-based health promotion program being implemented across Victoria, Australia. The program aims to reduce the risk of childhood obesity by improving the socio-cultural, policy and physical environments in children's care and educational settings. Membership of the K-GFYL program is open to all primary and pre-schools and early childhood services across the State. Once in the program, member schools and services are centrally supported to undertake the health promotion (intervention) activities. Once the K-GFYL program 'criteria' are reached the school/service is assessed and 'awarded'. This paper describes the design of the evaluation of the statewide K-GFYL intervention program.
The evaluation is mixed method and cross sectional and aims to:
1) Determine if K-GFYL award status is associated with more health promoting environments in schools/services compared to those who are members only;
2) Determine if children attending K-GFYL award schools/services have higher levels of healthy eating and physical activity-related behaviors compared to those who are members only;
3) Examine the barriers to implementing and achieving the K-GFYL award; and
4) Determine the economic cost of implementing K-GFYL in primary schools
Parent surveys will capture information about the home environment and child dietary and physical activity-related behaviors. Environmental questionnaires in early childhood settings and schools will capture information on the physical activity and nutrition environment and current health promotion activities. Lunchbox surveys and a set of open-ended questions for kindergarten parents will provide additional data. Resource use associated with the intervention activities will be collected from primary schools for cost analysis.
The K-GFYL award program is a community-wide intervention that requires a comprehensive, multi-level evaluation. The evaluation design is constrained by the lack of a non-K-GFYL control group, short time frames and delayed funding of this large scale evaluation across all intervention settings. However, despite this, the evaluation will generate valuable evidence about the utility of a community-wide environmental approach to preventing childhood obesity which will inform future public health policies and health promotion programs internationally.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2887823  PMID: 20507634

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