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Improving weight status in childhood: results from the eat well be active community programs

International Journal of Public Health

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The eat well be active Community Programs (ewba) aimed to prevent obesity among children aged 0–18 years in two Australian communities from 2006 to 2010.


ewba was a multi-strategy intervention in children’s settings. The evaluation was quasi-experimental, including a before and after survey with intervention (INT) and non-randomised comparison (COMP) communities. Outcome measures included BMI-z score (zBMI) and overweight/obesity prevalence in children aged 4–5 years; and zBMI, waist circumference (WC) z-score and overweight/obesity prevalence in children aged10–12 years.


After 3 years, among the 4–5 years old, mean zBMI was significantly lower in both INT (−0.20, p < 0.05) and COMP (−0.15, p < 0.05), however, changes were not significantly different between INT and COMP. There was a larger reduction in overweight/obesity prevalence in INT (−6.3 %) compared to COMP (−3.7 %) (p < 0.05, χ 2 test). In the 10–12 years old, mean zBMI did not change significantly in INT or COMP. There was a significant reduction in WC z-score in INT (−0.17, p < 0.05) but not in COMP (−0.10, p = NS), although not significantly different between INT and COMP (p = 0.092).


These findings suggest that the ewba community intervention had a moderate impact, showing modest improvements in weight status at 3-year follow-up.

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Project funding and support received from Health Promotion Branch, SA Health, Government of South Australia; Marian McAllister for contribution to project management and report writing; the entire ewba Community Programs team for their commitment to implementation and assistance with the evaluation; Prof Fiona Verity for contribution to evaluation design; All stakeholders, school principals and staff, students and their parents who contributed to this part of the evaluation; CYWHS for access to pre-school child data.

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Correspondence to Tahna Pettman.

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Pettman, T., Magarey, A., Mastersson, N. et al. Improving weight status in childhood: results from the eat well be active community programs. Int J Public Health 59, 43–50 (2014).

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