Good for Kids … good for national award

May 29 2015

John Wiggers

A children’s obesity prevention program that was developed and implemented by Hunter New England Health practitioners and HMRI researchers has won a coveted national award for promoting healthy eating and physical activity in the community.

Good for Kids Good for Life was presented with the 2015 Excellence Award by the federally-funded Collaboration of Community-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS).

When first implemented from 2006-10, the Hunter New England Population Health program was Australia’s largest community-based study of its kind. It engaged primary schools, child-care services, GPs and sports clubs to promote nutrition and exercise among children.

According to program leader Dr John Wiggers, Good for Kids Good for Life achieved significant improvements in parental awareness. Children in the HNE Health district reduced their consumption of sweetened drinks and fruit juices while increasing their intake of water, fruit and vegetables. Physical activity levels also rose.

“The prevalence of overweight and obesity decreased among children in kindergarten and Years 2 and 4 in contrast to an increasing trend in NSW,” Dr Wiggers said.

“Based on the extensive evidence and evaluation of Good for Kids Good for Life, the NSW Government scaled up the program into the NSW Healthy Children Initiative for all primary schools and childcare services across the State.

“In our region, continued delivery of the program has resulted in almost 280 primary schools and 324 childcare operators implementing healthy eating and physical activity initiatives.”

To win the coveted CO-OPS Award, a program has to display excellence in evaluation, implementation, sustainability, governance and transparency.

“The award is an opportunity for CO-OPS to recognise initiatives that have applied evidence and demonstrated leadership in their approaches to obesity prevention,” CO-OPS Director Dr Penny Love said.

“They are also a way to showcase examples of successful obesity prevention initiatives in Australia.”

* Dr John Wiggers is Director of Hunter New England Population Health and Professor, School of Medicine and Public Health, at the University of Newcastle. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.