This project aimed to establish healthy dietary and physical activity environments for children in the City of Moreland via school based community programs. The specific project objectives were to:
- Increase children’s physical activity levels and reduce sedentary behaviours
- Improve children’s dietary intake, indicated by increased consumption of fruit and vegetables and reduced inclusion of sweet drinks
- Improve child health, wellbeing, and educational outcomes
- Establish a sustainable program and continued environment and behaviour change beyond the program
Fun ‘n healthy in Moreland! is a cluster randomized controlled trial of multi-level, multi-factorial health promotion and obesity prevention strategies. The five-year study involved intervention program development, 24 primary (elementary) schools, and a mixed method approach to evaluation. It was conducted as a community-research partnership between Merri Community Health Services and the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program of the University of Melbourne in a culturally diverse area of inner urban Melbourne with areas of significant socioeconomic disadvantage
The intervention program drew on evidence based analysis of strategies which were shown to be effective in addressing multi level outcomes (policy implementation, environmental change, community awareness, change in services and individual behaviour change), combined with embedded use of the WHO Health Promoting Schools Framework, community development strategies, and a culturally competent approach. It was intended to be low cost in its implementation and sustainable in terms of longer term impact outcomes. Specific funding was not provided to schools for participation in this study, or for program activities, however assistance was given in terms of identifying and applying for other funding opportunities available to schools at the time, particularly from the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services as part of the Go for your life (GFYL) campaign. The intervention program was designed as a partnership between health and education sectors, working to the strengths and context of individual schools. A decision was made not to strongly brand the program within the schools to allow them to ‘own’ the changes and to ensure that they continued beyond the period of the study.
The intervention program was resourced and delivered from mid 2005 until mid 2009. Baseline data was collected in 2004/2005 and the results provided to all schools, impact evaluation was conducted in 2007 at program schools and outcome evaluation was conducted at all schools between July-December 2009.