Gladstone kids fat-busting program ending as funds dry up

QUT Senior Research Fellow Dr Helen Vidgen from QUT's School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences is looking at the diet of children and what a healthy lunch box should look like.
QUT Senior Research Fellow Dr Helen Vidgen from QUT's School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences is looking at the diet of children and what a healthy lunch box should look like. Erika Fish

A THREE-YEAR program dedicated to helping Gladstone kids and families fight the bulge ends on December 31.

In the three years, the Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health program has worked with 36 Gladstone children from 31 families.

The State Government funded the Queensland University of Technology service to help treat and manage obesity in our region and the rest of the state.

QUT senior research fellow Dr Helen Vidgen said it was sad to see the end of the evidence-based, parent-led healthy lifestyle program.

Dr Vigden said the program's overall results would help influence the government's future plan for reducing obesity.

"There is fairly good agreement on what a childhood obesity management program should have in it," Dr Vidgen said.

"It should talk about nutrition and physical activity and it should look at encouraging behaviour change and involve different health professionals and focus on families."

Research shows about 900,000 - or 23.7% - of Aussie children aged 5-18 years are overweight or obese.

This figure is expected to hit than 1.2 million children - or 27.35% - by 2025.

Dr Vigden said making a program like PEACH widely available through the public health system would help reduce these statistics.

"Families who took part tell us that they made lifestyle behaviour changes after completing the program,  including introducing daily walks with their children, adding more vegetables to school lunchboxes, changing portion sizes, involving children in dinner preparation and reducing the family's screen time," she said.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Mark Elcocksaid PEACH would be evaluated by year's end.

"Any future funding will be based on this assessment," Dr Elcock said.

"The Department of Health funds and supports a number of programs that promote physical activity to children.

These programs are part of a broader strategy to achieve the Advancing health 2026 vision of reducing childhood obesity by 10%."

PEACH's overall outcomes will be discussed at the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society in Brisbane from October 19-21.


Brisbane's Dan and Carly Dryden and their two daughters, Ava, 8, and Sienna, 5, completed the PEACH face-to-face program a year ago.
Brisbane's Dan and Carly Dryden and their two daughters, Ava, 8, and Sienna, 5, completed the PEACH face-to-face program a year ago. tony phillips

Family's feeling PEACHy after life-changing program

THE Drydens were among the 919 Queensland families to take part in the Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health program over the past three years.

Each PEACH program offers 10 group work sessions delivered in local community centres over six months.

Parents and carers meet in one group to learn about healthy living options while their children meet in another group for a fun physical activities.

Parents also receive a handbook packed with information, goal-setting tools and interactive activities that cover a range of topics including healthy lifestyle behaviour; relationships with food and eating; changing family lifestyle behaviours; nutrition skills; and affordable eating at home and when away.

PEACH facilitators provide individualised family support.

Parents Dan and Carly Dryden and their daughters, Ava, 8, and Sienna, 5, joined PEACH to ensure they would not become part of Australia's obesity problem.

Mr Dryden said the program set them up for a lifetime of healthy behaviour.

"The program and keeping a food diary reinforced to us that our eating habits were essentially healthy, but we learnt about the right portion sizes and that what we needed was to be more physically active," he said.

"We bought the girls a basketball hoop for Christmas and we encourage them to play and be active, and we do things together as a family, like go for bushwalks.

"Balancing the amount of time spent in front of screens was also a key for us, whatever type of screen it is - phone, iPad or TV.

"And Carly and I learnt that we have to be better role models for our kids, to lead by example."  



1122 primary school-aged children from 919 families enrolled in the 105 PEACH face-to-face programs organised across Queensland. 

These groups ran at 49 different locations, from the Gold Coast to Cairns in the north and out west to Longreach.

An online format of the program was specially developed so families who were unable to attend face-to-face groups could also access PEACH.  

A total of 287 families with 380 primary school-aged children enrolled in PEACH Online.

Topics:  health helen vidgen obesity peach queensland university of technology

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