Community-Based Prevention

The Barwon-South Western region of Victoria has been involved in supporting and evaluating three community-based projects:

These studies have clearly shown, for the first time, that overweight and obesity can be reduced in pre-schoolers, children and adolescents within three years using a community capacity building approach. The interventions also reduce inequalities and are safe.

Findings from these community-based projects have been translated into several state programs as well as an NHMRC-funded project to test the sustainability of the original intervention. Six Victorian communities have participated in the Being, Active Eating Well community demonstration projects, which build on the success of programs such as Be Active, Eat Well and help empower communities manage overweight and obesity by developing their own behaviour change solutions

Be Active Eat Well (BAEW) was a 3-year (2003-2006) community-wide childhood obesity prevention demonstration program in Colac which successfully reduced unhealthy weight gain in children aged 4-12 years compared to the rest of the Barwon-South Western Region of Victoria. A follow-up assessment was conducted in 2009 which asked the following questions:

  1. Investments: Was the original BAEW program in Colac cost-effective and affordable?
  2. Community capacity: What was the level of capacity (network partnerships, knowledge transfer, problem solving, and infrastructure) within communities in Colac and the Region to promote healthy body weight in children?
  3. Childhood overweight and obesity: What have been the changes in childhood overweight and obesity and its related behaviours, environments and health promotion activities in Colac and the Region between 2003 and 2009?

Findings from the Be Active Eat Well Three-year Follow-up Report are available here

Our work with community-based prevention also led to the establishment of the Collaboration of Community-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS Collaboration), which aims to support community-based obesity prevention initiatives through a collaborative approach to promoting best practice, knowledge translation and by providing networking opportunities, support and advice.

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