At the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) we produce evidence that makes a real and positive difference to health and wellbeing. We conduct research across all life stages looking at food, nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
By addressing the major problems behind chronic disease and preventable death, our research has led to significant achievements in improving health.
Improving children's health
To reduce the risk of childhood obesity, we’ve developed one of the only evidence-based programs that supports first-time mothers helping their infants eat healthily and be active.
The program’s success led to Victorian government funding through the ‘Healthy Together Victoria’ initiative and was made available in a number of local government areas in Victoria.
Over the last decade, the results of our extensive research into children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours have been used to develop Australia's first set of physical activity guidelines for children. This is now a means to benchmark and track national efforts to promote physical activity.
We were the first in the world to objectively assess physical activity and sedentary behaviours in children under two. By finding that many children failed to meet the recommended levels of physical activity and screen-based entertainment, this critical work highlights the need to support and encourage increased activity levels and decrease sedentary behaviours.
By researching salt intake in young Australian children, we found that 70% exceeded the recommended daily upper limit, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We also identified the main sources of salt in children's diets, which is critical in efforts to reduce salt intake.
Building healthy neighbourhoods
Our research into how neighbourhood design affects physical activity directly informed the Heart Foundation 'Healthy by Design' resource for local government and urban planners.
Other research into neighbourhood food access and availability also informed the 'Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design' initiative and advocacy activities.
We conducted the first intervention
programs in Australian supermarkets to improve fruit and vegetable consumption.
In partnership with Coles and the Heart Foundation, we showed that education and
improving skills in food purchasing and preparation, as well as price
reductions, improved consumption. This program also resulted in changes to Coles' promotion of fruit and vegetables.
Keeping older adults healthy
We successfully trialled an osteoporosis prevention program for older adults at increased risk of falls or fractures.
Our research into exercise and osteoporosis was used to develop an online calculator to help users work out if they’re exercising enough to maintain bone strength. The research results have also been used to update online consumer resource manuals at Osteoporosis Australia.
Contributing to health guidelines
into the effects of vitamin D deficiency informed a position statement
published by the Medical Journal of
Australia (2012) to raise awareness among health professionals and
consumers about the need to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D all year, and how best to achieve this.