Background: Permanent reductions in childhood obesity are possible if the complex and dynamic causes of obesity are taken into account. The impact of previous interventions would be sustained by increased community ownership (community-built interventions); support from existing community funds (avoiding the state and federal feast/famine of prevention funding); and, building on existing community assets (systems and networks). This research works with partners to test new ways to embed best practice for obesity prevention in existing community systems (e.g. health, workplaces, local council, schools) to ensure the most efficient and effective implementation and sustainability.
Objective: This paper introduces the WHOSTOPS Childhood Obesity initiative, an NHMRC Partnership Project Grant. The goals of this grant are to; 1) strengthen community action for childhood obesity prevention; and, 2) measure the impacts of increased action on risk factors for childhood obesity. This application builds on a 13-year partnership within the study region that has delivered several successful and world leading childhood obesity prevention interventions.
Methods: WHOSTOPS is a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial in ten communities in the Great South Coast Region of Victoria. Five communities will be randomised into the study in year one and all communities will be included in year 3. A parallel group of 13 additional communities from other regions of Victoria with no intervention will provide an external control and will help assess the potential diffusion of the intervention between regions within this trial.
Conclusion: We will assess whether the adoption of systems change interventions is scalable and rapidly increases community capacity to apply best evidence across community systems. The primary outcome of childhood obesity prevalence will be collected by the community-led monitoring system already established. In 2015, baseline data were collected from >2,500 children (90% participation rate (PR)).