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A successful community approach to tackling increasing overweight in children

The 8th August edition of the BMJ (Moynihan 2008) reports "The small town of Colac in rural Australia is attracting national and international attention for its approach to fighting childhood obesity, and reducing health inequalities."  The news item goes on to say "Two hours west of Melbourne, with 11,000 inhabitants, Colac is the site of a long term community-wide campaign called Be Active Eat Well, funded by the state government of Victoria.  The campaign aims to build the community's capacity to fight childhood obesity, and its action plan was designed and implemented by local organisations, including schools; parents; and local health, housing, and government services.  Key strategies include transforming canteen menus, introducing daily fruit, reducing television watching, and increasing activities after school."  As described in an important research article (Sanigorski, Bell et al. 2008)  "In the first three years of the campaign children in Colac had significantly lower weight (about 1 kg) and smaller waist (about 3 cm) compared with children in a nearby control area."  Additionally the intervention seemed to benefit children from all socioeconomic backgrounds whereas in the nearby comparison area, more disadvantaged children experienced greater weight gain.  The intervention "Be Active Eat Well" is now being introduced into five more communities in Victoria to try to build evidence for its helpfulness. 

Moynihan, R. (2008)  "Small Australian town is model for community campaigns against obesity" BMJ 337:a1238.  [Extract/Full Text
Sanigorski, A.M., A C Bell, et al. (2008) "Reducing unhealthy weight gain in children through community capacity-building: results of a quasi-experimental intervention program, Be Active Eat Well"  Int J Obes (Lond) 2008;32:1060-7.  [Abstract/Full Text]

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