Health Promotion Journal of Australia Health Promotion Journal of Australia Society
Journal of the Australian Health Promotion Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Establishing a sustainable childhood obesity monitoring system in regional Victoria

Nicholas Crooks A D , Claudia Strugnell A , Colin Bell A B and Steve Allender A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Centre for Population Health Research, Deakin University, Locked Bag 20001, Geelong, Vic. 3220, Australia.

B School of Medicine, Deakin University, Locked Bag 20000, Geelong, Vic. 3220, Australia.

C School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Locked Bag 20001, Geelong, Vic. 3220, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: crni@deakin.edu.au

Health Promotion Journal of Australia 28(2) 96-102 https://doi.org/10.1071/HE16020
Submitted: 16 March 2016  Accepted: 19 September 2016   Published: 19 December 2016

Abstract

Issue addressed: Childhood obesity poses a significant immediate and long-term burden to individuals, societies and health systems. Infrequent and inadequate monitoring has led to uncertainty about trends in childhood obesity prevalence in many countries. High-quality data, collected at regular intervals, over extended timeframes, with high response rates and timely feedback are essential to support prevention efforts. Our aim was to establish a sustainable childhood obesity monitoring system in regional Australia to collect accurate anthropometric and behavioural data, provide timely feedback to communities and build community engagement and capacity.

Methods: All schools from six government regions of South-West Victoria were invited to participate. Passive (opt-out) consent was used to collect measured anthropometric and self-reported behavioural data from children in years 2, 4, and 6, aged 7–12 years.

Results: We achieved a 70% school participation rate (n = 46) and a 93% student response rate (n = 2198) among government and independent schools. Results were reported within 10 weeks post data collection. Harnessing high levels of community engagement throughout the planning, data collection and reporting phases increased community capacity and data utility.

Conclusions: The monitoring system achieved high response rates, community engagement and community capacity building, and delivered results back to the community in a timely manner.

So what?: This system has the potential to provide sustainable monitoring of childhood obesity that is not dependent on external funding. The results of this monitoring will likely inform health promotion efforts in communities across the region.

Key words: children, community development, measurement development, obesity prevention, population health, quantitative methods.


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