About our study
What is the study about?
Women aged 18-45 years are at high risk for major weight gain leading to overweight and obesity. Children are also an at-risk group, with increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity observed in most developed countries. Many children and women are physically inactive and have diets high in fat, energy and salt and low in fruit, vegetables and fibre. This is particularly the case in neighbourhoods that are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which may have fewer facilities to support healthy eating and activity. However, not everyone living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods is overweight and many people are regularly active and eat healthy well-balanced diets.
The Women and Children's Health Study aims to understand the personal, social and environmental factors associated with healthy eating and activity behaviours in women and their children, particularly amongst those living in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
What does the study involve?
The Women and Children's Healthy Study is being conducted over five years (2007-11). The study has involved mailing a survey to nearly 5,000 women aged 18-45 years living in urban and rural areas of Victoria. Women who had a child aged 5-12 years old were also asked to complete a second survey about their child's physical activity and eating behaviours. Data on the children’s height, weight and physical activity were also collected through measurements taken by the study researchers.
Participants who completed the survey in 2007-8 were followed up again with a survey in 2009-2010 to examine changes in weight, physical activity and eating behaviours that may have occurred during this time. In addition, some women and children have been involved in interviews to obtain a better sense of the factors that help them to be active, to eat well, and to maintain a healthy weight. The findings from this study are also being used to inform the development of programs and initiatives to promote healthy eating and physical activity. For example, we are working with a local council to assess the impact of a park refurbishment in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, to determine whether this leads to increased physical activity amongst local residents. We are also testing some strategies focused on improving budgeting, shopping and cooking skills and price reductions to promote healthy eating amongst women and their families.