Strengthening the evidence for childhood obesity strategies


Status completed

Start Date

End Date


Policy and practice in managing childhood obesity: Implementation case studies in Queensland and NSW

Project title

What is the issue?

The World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (2016) lists identification and treatment of children and adolescents already affected by obesity as one of its three overarching goals. A multi-sectoral approach is required for preventing and managing existing childhood obesity. The report recommends the provision of family-based, multi-component, lifestyle weight management services for obese children and young people. Policies and supportive systems are needed to drive and facilitate these family-focused interventions, but we don’t know enough about the relative importance of various systemic factors in the context of the Australian health care system

How did the project address the issue?

This project explored systemic factors in two health care environments and to provide recommendations on what is required for successful implementation and outcomes.

Using a case study approach, the project investigated the enablers and barriers to successful implementation of childhood overweight and obesity management strategies using the experiences of implementing evidence-based programs in Queensland and NSW.

The project:

  • Documented the development and implementation of the two statewide programs
  • Described and analysed the influence of health care and other related systems and structures on the delivery of two state-based community childhood overweight and obesity group intervention strategies
  • Explored the relative contribution (facilitators and barriers) to successful implementation and sustainability of interventions
  • Developed a broader consultation framework, consisting of a series of questions to take to other health jurisdictions as well as other key stakeholders (public and private) to enhance the available information on implementation factors affecting childhood overweight and obesity prevention and management
  • Informed the development of policy guidelines, particularly key roles and responsibilities of health care service providers and funders.

What were the outcomes?

The project found that childhood overweight and obesity management programs will only succeed long term if they are embedded into the health care system. Without a clear position in the health care system – whether as prevention, treatment or part of universal health care – programs are vulnerable to external factors such as changes in government, funding priorities and philosophical differences.

The project recommended changes to policy and associated supportive structural requirements. These recommendations are expected to inform policies targeting the provision of accessible evidence-based interventions and associated training of relevant professionals to deliver these interventions. The findings from this project can inform further work to embed the management of childhood overweight and obesity as part of usual care in the health system in Australia with a clear mandate for health service provision.

Relevance for practice

The project report laid the foundation for broader consultation with other jurisdictions involved in childhood obesity secondary prevention and management and other potential stakeholders, both public and private.

Through an analysis of the complex and dynamic influences affecting the implementation of programs, a stronger evidence base was built to:

  • Identify factors that influence and help predict success in implementation endeavours
  • Guide the adaptation and scaling up of programs to better suit the implementation environment
  • Inform policy development regarding childhood obesity secondary prevention and management.


Other publications


  • Development of Childhood Obesity Services Symposium ANZOS. Managing childhood obesity: is it prevention, treatment or universal child health and why does it matter? Learnings from the implementation of two statewide programmes. October 2016.  Brisbane. Chair: Helen Vidgen
  • Love P, Vidgen H, Daniels L, Innes-Hughes C,  Rissel C, Nean J, Innes-Walker K and Baur L. What are the implementation barriers and enablers for childhood obesity management services? ANZOS 2016 Childhood Obesity Services Symposium. October 2016, Brisbane.


Lead investigators

  • Dr Helen Vidgen Dr Helen Vidgen has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Queensland University of Technology
    Headshot of Helen Vidgen

Project team

  • Dr Penny Love Dr Penny Love has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Deakin University
    Headshot of Penny Love
  • Debbie Croydon Debbie Croydon has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Queensland University of Technology
  • Dr Jacqueline Miller Dr Jacqueline Miller has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Flinders University
  • Professor Chris Rissel Professor Chris Rissel has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Headshot of Chris Rissel
  • Christine Innes-Hughes Christine Innes-Hughes has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    NSW Office of Preventive Health
  • Judy Nean Judy Nean has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Queensland Department of Health
  • Associate Professor Sonia Wutzke Associate Professor Sonia Wutzke has finished working with the Prevention Centre.

    Headshot of Sonia Wutzke


This project was funded by the NHMRC, Australian Government Department of Health, NSW Ministry of Health, ACT Health and the HCF Research Foundation.