The communities of Numurkah and Shepparton, in partnership with Deakin University, are developing a place based response to the rise in obesity and overweight amongst local children.
Deakin University is collaborating with the Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership and other local groups in Numurkah and the Greater Shepparton City Council Area to develop a systematic approach to address the complex, multiple determinants of childhood obesity. The model being applied is an example of how communities can come together to develop a collective response to a challenging health issue and has been successfully used in other locations across Victoria.
Information on weight and health behaviours has been collected for over 1600 children from approximately 40 primary schools to date. Data includes sweetened drink consumption, levels of physical activity, screen time etc. Communities are also being supported to consider what factors have changed over time that have contributed to a rise in childhood obesity, and what interventions may be implemented at the local level to address this through a collective impact model.
Data will be collected again in 2018 and 2020 to monitor trends and allow the impact of interventions to be measured.
An application has been made to the National Health and Medical Research Council for a grant to scale up this work to an additional 10 local government areas in the East Division. Deakin University, local health services, the Department of Health and Human Service and the Department of Education, and others, have committed to providing various levels of support for what is known locally as the RESPOND initiative (Reflexive Evidence and Systems interventions to Prevent Obesity and Non-communicable Disease).
This initiative adds to a growing body of work occurring across Victoria and elsewhere that seeks to empower local communities to take control over complex health and wellbeing issues within their local area. If, as anticipated, the work can be extended to cover a greater number of local government areas there is a real opportunity to demonstrate the potential of systems based approaches to address the rise in childhood obesity at an unprecedented scale.
For further information please contact Jenny Burrows from the Numurkah District Health Service on (03) 5862 0560.Submit your story!