Other projects

Research at IPAN spans basic metabolism and physiology, through clinical and behavioural studies to community and population-based research. Here you'll find details of some of our key projects.

The Melbourne InFANT (Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial) Program

Led by Associate Professor Karen Campbell and Associate Professor Kylie Hesketh, this intervention program was delivered to first-time parents of infants aged three months (at the time of recruitment) to encourage healthy habits from the very start of life.

Using an anticipatory guidance framework, the intervention provided parents with the knowledge, skills, confidence and social support to create healthy food and activity environments for infants aged between three and 18 months. It worked within first-time parent groups for maximum social support between participants and produced positive results.

High parent participation and engagement:

  • Eight out of 10 mothers attending first-time parent groups joined the program regardless of their socio-economic position.
  • Seven out of 10 mothers attended at least four of the six scheduled sessions.
  • Process evaluation showed that around 85% of mothers, across socio-economic groups, consistently reported high levels of program usefulness and relevance.

Parental knowledge about, and self-efficacy to achieve, healthy infant eating and active play behaviours increased. Maternal diet improved. Active play behaviours increased and maternal diet improved. Compared to those not involved in the program, the mothers:

  • were less likely to agree that TV was educational or benefited their child's learning
  • had improved nutrition knowledge
  • were less likely to employ undesirable feeding practices (e.g. use of pressure in child feeding, use of food as rewards)
  • reported higher levels of self-efficacy to limit their child's consumption of unhealthy foods
  • had healthier dietary patterns.

Children's diet improved and television viewing reduced. Compared to those not involved in the program, the children:

  • watched less television
  • ate fewer non-core sweet snacks
  • consumed more fruit and water
  • had improved lifestyle patterns.

This study was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (no. 425801). The contents of the published material are solely the responsibility of Deakin University and do not reflect the views of NHMRC. Additional funds were provided by the Heart Foundation (Victoria Division) and Deakin University.

Email The Melbourne InFANT Program

Follow-up of the Melbourne InFANT Program participants

Funding was received to conduct a follow-up with the participants of the Melbourne InFANT Program, assessing the children at three-and-a-half years and five years of age. The follow-up assessed whether the differences observed between the intervention and control groups at the conclusion of the program had been maintained. Data analysis is in progress.

This project was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant (no. 1008879). The information contained here is solely the responsibility of Deakin University and does not reflect the views of the NHMRC.

Email The Melbourne InFANT Program

InFANT Extend Program

The InFANT (Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial) Extend Program aims to test the effectiveness of a childhood healthy eating and active play intervention delivered to first-time parents. This program focuses on parenting skills that encourage positive eating habits, physical activity and low-level sedentary behaviours from infancy.

The study also aims to extend findings from the Melbourne InFANT program by assessing the impact of an additional low-dose intervention provided until children are three-and-a-half years of age.

The InFANT Extend Program is funded by the World Cancer Research Fund UK.

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HAPPY (Healthy Active Pre-school and Primary Years) Study

Led by Associate Professor Kylie Hesketh, this study initially examined physical activity and sedentary behaviours of children aged three to five years, with the aim of identifying influencing factors such as childcare/pre-school policy and physical environments, neighbourhood characteristics, home environments, social factors and parental influences. The sample group was from pre-schools and long daycare centres and from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.

Results showed that the children spent an average of 85% of their waking time being sedentary (sitting or standing still) and only 2.5% of children aged three to five years were meeting the national guideline of three hours of physical activity each day. Additionally, 63% of the children in the study exceeded the guideline of one hour or less of TV/screen-based entertainment each day.

The HAPPY study has been funded for two follow-up studies, which assessed the baseline cohort when they were aged six to eight years of age, and subsequently when children were aged nine to 11 years of age.

The first follow up examined changes in the physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns of young children as they transitioned from pre-school to primary school and influences on these changes. Results show that the amount of physical activity and television viewing preschool children engage in is associated with levels of these behaviours in their parents. However, once children are in primary school, associations are only seen with their sex-matched parent for television viewing.

The second follow-up of children at ages nine through 11 years is still underway. It aims to:

  • examine changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns from pre-school through to upper primary school
  • identify pre-school and early primary school determinants (child, family and neighbourhood characteristics) of low levels of physical activity and high sedentary behaviour in later primary school years
  • investigate how child, family and neighbourhood factors in the preschool and early primary school years interact to influence change in physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

The initial HAPPY study was funded by Deakin University. The HAPPY follow-up studies have been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) (DP110101434 & DP140100554).

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Transform-Us!

Led by Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon, Transform-Us! is an intervention that involved 20 primary schools, over 220 teachers and reached over 1600 children and parents. Over two and a half years, the program aimed to increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviours through the following approaches:

  1. Teachers were provided with professional development to run classes that focused on physical activity and/or sedentary behaviours and improve students' current behaviours. Lessons focused on raising awareness, self-monitoring, goal setting (e.g. behavioural contracts) and social support (e.g. team-based activities at school; active homework to do with parents).
  2. Active curriculum strategies (standing lessons, short active breaks) were implemented and supporting equipment (standing easels, class lesson plans, standing lesson strategies, active break strategies) was supplied. 
  3. Schools were provided with asphalt line markings, signage and sport and circus equipment to encourage physical activity during recess and lunch breaks.


Findings

After two-and-a-half years, children had significantly increased their physical activity at recess and lunchtime by 33 minutes per week and significantly reduced their sitting time by 196 minutes per week.

Preliminary cost analysis shows that Transform-Us! is a very low cost intervention, costing on average $30.08 per child per year ($0.08 per child per day).

The Transform-Us! study was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (ID533815) and a Diabetes Australia Research Trust (DART) grant. The contents of the published material are solely the responsibility of Deakin University and do not reflect the views of NHMRC.

Contact us

Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN)
+61 3 9244 6613
Email IPAN
Twitter: @DeakinIPAN

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences
Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood Victoria 3125