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What works in obesity prevention? Here are 32 answers

The news on obesity is not all bad, says Chad Foulkes, a Deakin University researcher who has provided a preview of a new publication profiling community-based obesity prevention initiatives. He writes:

“In an earlier Croakey post on Professor Rob Moodie’s Sax Oration, Professor Moodie discussed the Federal Government’s response to the National Preventative Health Taskforce’s final report (he chairs this Taskforce) and he called for more to be done to discover “what works at the community level” to address the obesity epidemic.

Well, here are 32 answers from around Australia.

The Collaboration of COmmunity-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS Collaboration) has produced a book of case studies for community-based obesity prevention.

It features 32 case studies of projects across Australia with budgets from ‘nothing’ to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The book is full of photos, contact details and practical ways to prevent the increase of obesity in community settings.

The impetus for this book came from 100 participants at the CO-OPS 2009 National Workshop.

The 2010 CO-OPS National Workshop on 20th & 21st October will see the largest gathering of obesity prevention workers and researchers in Australasia for the entire year. Over 400 practitioners and researchers will come together when three conferences converge at the Hilton in Sydney – there is the free CO-OPS National Workshop, the ANZOS (Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society) national conference and ACAORN (Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network) annual meeting from October 20-23.

Each year CO-OPS travels to every State and Territory and delivers free professional development to health professionals, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and a range of other professions from not-for-profit organisations, community-based organisations, schools and kindergartens to universities. If you could benefit from a session like that listed below, please email us.

  • The ‘what and how’ of community engagement, analysis and/or capacity building.
  • Evaluation – what to evaluate, how to evaluate, why evaluate?
  • The role of government and policy in obesity prevention.
  • Relating the Best Practice Principles to your project.
  • Relationships between screen time and obesity.

The CO-OPS Collaboration is an initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and aims to support community-based obesity prevention projects through the promotion of collaboration, best practice and knowledge translation and by providing networking opportunities, support and advice. There are over 900 World Health Organization Collaborating Centres (WHOCCs) around the world and Deakin is home to the sole WHOCC on obesity prevention and is headed up by Alfred Deakin Professor Boyd Swinburn.

CO-OPS works to identify and analyse the lessons learned from a range of community-based obesity prevention projects aimed at tackling obesity and to identify the elements underpinning success and share such knowledge. CO-OPS staff are available to help you design, evaluate and plan how to engage with communities in your physical activity and/or nutrition community-based obesity projects.

So if, like Professor Moodie, you want to know what works to address obesity at the community level, check out the CO-OPS website or email me or ring 03 5227 8484.”