Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Community approach can help slow children's weight gain, Australian study suggests

Community approach can help slow children's weight gain, Australian study suggests

A study conducted in a small country town in Australia suggests that a community-wide approach to diet and exercise can help children avoid becoming overweight, a growing problem in many countries, researchers said.After looping parents, schools and other community centers in Colac into a program that promoted healthy eating and physical activity three years ago, the waistlines and weight increases in children in the town grew more slowly than those of children in nearby towns, preliminary results of the Deakin University study found.
The final results were due for release at the 10th Annual International Obesity Congress starting on Sunday in Sydney.
Like many developed countries, Australia is experiencing rising rates of childhood obesity.
Around 25 percent of Australian children are overweight or obese, and the number is rising by around 1.7 percent each year, Deakin researchers said.
Under the "Be Active, Eat Well" campaign launched in Colac three years ago, parents, teachers, doctors and community leaders were urged to promote healthy lifestyle choices to primary school children in the town.
Efforts included sending parents information about healthier lunch box options, introducing fruit breaks at school, establishing "walk to school" days and promoting other physical activity.
Researchers measured the weights and waistlines of about 1,000 Colac children and compared them to the measurements of around 1,000 children from nearby communities that did not participate in the program.
While the overall rate of obesity rose across both groups, the children in Colac grew an average of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) less over three years than their neighboring peers, the research found.
The waistlines of the group in Colac, a farming town about 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of the Victoria state capital of Melbourne, were also an average of 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) smaller after three years than the group that didn't participate in the program, according to preliminary findings published last month.
"That's quite a big change across a population," said research leader Boyd Swinburn. "For an individual, it may not be much, but you multiply that across a whole population and it's substantial."
The researchers found that the children who took part in the study did not reduce the amount of fast food they ate or the hours of television they watched, factors that can contribute to obesity.
"What was rather surprising is that quite a lot of those behaviors actually didn't change very much," Swinburn said, adding that a number of small, statistically insignificant lifestyle changes may have contributed to the overall result.
Swinburn said the study indicates that where there is a community will to fight childhood obesity, results can follow.


Updated : 2021-10-23 11:06 GMT+08:00