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Building a portfolio of interventions: Addressing issues hampering the promotion of healthy weight gain among young children in Australia

Although childhood overweight and obesity in Australia has reached crisis stage, current research indicated that to date the majority of interventions to address this problem have focused on the school as a key setting, with a dearth of interventions aimed specifically at children aged 2-6 years. However, particularly alarming is the steady rise in excess weight among preschool children, especially those from low socio-economic families. As such, the objectives of this proposal were to: 1) develop a portfolio of interventions for use with different health care providers, so that each Health Service Area can select and develop multi-faceted interventions that target the specific needs of their area; and 2) design a toolkit to ensure consistent messages across the different primary health care sectors in the use of these interventions.

The project involved three phases:

  • Phase 1: An extensive Delphi Technique to obtain the opinions of various primary health care groups from all states within Australia, to review current issues in developing multifaceted plans for the prevention of overweight and to determine appropriate means of supporting effective interventions and establishing consistent messages. Three rounds of electronic questionnaires with feedback were used to develop consensus.
  • Phase 2: Thirty-six focus groups were conducted with parents, nurses, GPs, child care and early education groups and public health care providers in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The aim of conducting the focus groups was to probe in more detail, provider and parent attitudes to and acceptance of a short list of promising options previously identified.
  • Phase 3: A simple toolkit was developed to help the health sector play a leadership role in ensuring that primary health care providers from different government departments maintain a consistent message in the development of cross sector interventions.

Project Duration


Funding Body

ANU Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) & the Department of Health and Ageing

For further information about this project please contact Dr Lydia Hearn at


Dr Lydia Hearn
Professor Donna Cross
Mrs Margaret Miller
Curtin University, Ms Delia Hendrie


Ms Renee Campbell-Pope

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