Other Projects

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

Led by Associate Professor Karen Campbell and Dr Kylie Hesketh, this was an intervention program delivered to first-time parents of infants aged three months at recruitment, to encourage healthy habits from the start of life. It focused on parenting skills that support the development of positive diet and physical activity behaviours in infants from three to 18 months of age. Using an anticipatory guidance framework the intervention provided parents with knowledge, skills, confidence and social support to provide their infants with healthy food and activity environments from an early age. It worked within first-time parent groups to maximise social support for health behaviour change.

Results indicated:
Parent participation and engagement were high.

  • Eight out of 10 mothers attending first-time parent groups joined the Infant Program, regardless of their socioeconomic 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.
Compared to mothers not involved in the Infant Program, mothers in the Program:

  • 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 children not involved in the Infant Program, children in the Program:

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

Contact infant-study@deakin.edu.au

Funding acknowledgement: This study was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (no. 425801). Additional funds were provided by the Heart Foundation (Victoria Division) and Deakin University.

Follow-up of the Melbourne InFANT program participants

Funding was received to follow-up the participants of the Melbourne InFANT Program when the children were three and a half years and five years of age. The follow-up aimed to assess whether the differences observed between the intervention and control groups at the conclusion of InFANT were maintained to three and a half years and five years of age. Data analysis is in progress.
Contact infant-study@deakin.edu.au

Funding acknowledgement: 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.

InFANT Extend Program

The InFANT Extend Program aims to test the effectiveness of a childhood healthy eating and active play intervention delivered to first-time parents and focused on parenting skills that support the development of positive diet, 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.
Contact infext@deakin.edu.au

Funding acknowledgement: The InFANT Extend Program has been funded by the World Cancer Research Fund UK.

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

Led by Dr Kylie Hesketh, this study examined physical activity and sedentary behaviours of young children aged three to five years to identify factors across multiple domains impacting on these behaviours, including childcare/preschool policy and physical environments, neighbourhood characteristics, home environments, social factors and parental influences. Children from low, mid and high socioeconomic areas across metropolitan Melbourne (six local government areas) were recruited from preschools and long day care centres.

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

The HAPPY Follow Up study followed the baseline cohort until they were aged six to eight years. The aims were to examine changes in the physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns of young children as they transition from preschool to primary school. Data analysis is in progress.

The HAPPY Study has been funded for a second follow up of children now aged nine to 11 years and data collection commenced in July 2014. The aims of this current follow up are to:

  • Examine change in physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns from preschool through to upper primary school,
  • Identify preschool and early primary school determinants (child, family and neighbourhood characteristics) of low levels of physical activity and high sedentary behaviour in the 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.

Contact happy@deakin.edu.au

Funding acknowledgement: The Happy Follow Up study and Second Follow Up study have been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC).


Led by Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon, Transform-Us! is a recently completed intervention that involved 20 primary schools, over 220 teachers and reached over 1600 children and parents. Over two and a half years Transform-Us! targeted increases in physical activity and reductions in sedentary behaviours through the following feasible approaches:

  • Teachers provided with professional development to introduce class lessons that focused on physical activity and/or sedentary behaviours and teaching the children how they can improve their current behaviours. The 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).
  • Active curriculum strategies implemented (e.g. standing lessons to reduce class time sitting, short active breaks to interrupt long periods of sitting) and equipment to support this (standing easels, class lesson plans, standing lesson strategies, active break strategies).
  • Schools provided with asphalt line markings, signage and sport and circus equipment to encourage physical activity during recess and lunch breaks.

After two and a half years children 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. Further information regarding cardio-metabolic health impacts of Transform-Us! will be available late 2014. 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).

Funding acknowledgement: 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.

NEARBY (NEighbourhood Activity in Youth project)

The NEighbourhood Activity in Youth project (NEArbY) aims to determine the neighbourhood features (around home and school) that are important for youth participation in physical activity (e.g. sport participation, active transport), sedentary behaviours (e.g., screen use, sitting time), social engagement (e.g. social connections), and eating behaviours (e.g. fruit, vegetable, snack food, soft drink intake). This study involves partners from the health, planning, transport and infrastructure sectors and is using innovative research techniques to inform urban design and policy to create neighbourhoods that support healthy active lifestyles among adolescents.

This study will involve 1,280 adolescents from Years 7 to 12 (aged ~12-17 years, balanced by sex) attending approximately 40 co-educational government secondary schools in Melbourne. Adolescents will be recruited from a diverse range of neighbourhoods in Melbourne (varying in 'walkability' and income).

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