There were only a few examples of obesity prevention programs that had been conducted with children from Indigenous and different cultural groups around the world. The researchers found this disappointing, considering that the prevalence of overweight and obese individuals among Aboriginal Australians is high, and that as a single risk factor, high body mass is among the leading causes of illness and injury in Aboriginal Australians.

This PhD project was based on the eat well be active (ewba) community programs, a mainstream community-based childhood obesity prevention program that promotes healthy weight among children aged 0-18 years and their families, by encouraging them to eat well and be active.

This PhD project  investigated the effectiveness of – and transferability of – the intervention and evaluation components of the ewba program to Aboriginal people. 

This research added new evidence about the effectiveness of mainstream nutrition and physical activity programs for Aboriginal people, and whether or not such programs are transferable and appropriate. The project explored a number of aspects, including:

  • The experiences of Aboriginal community members (children aged 0–18 and their families) with the ewba intervention and evaluation processes.
  • The experiences of Aboriginal workers who have been involved with ewba.

It will also provide insight into the effectiveness of mainstream strategies for childhood obesity prevention in Aboriginal people, and the implications of these findings for future practice in the areas of obesity prevention, nutrition and physical activity will be considered.

ewba is one of the first programs of its kind in Australia, and the first in South Australia. The ewba community programs are based in two ‘intervention’ communities (the rural city of Murray Bridge and the metropolitan suburb of Morphett Vale) and two ‘comparison’ communities (the rural city of Port Pirie and the Metropolitan Education district of Sea and Vines) in South Australia.

ewba has a high-quality evaluation framework which reflects the complexity of the intervention. This PhD project used the ewba community programs as an example of a mainstream healthy eating and physical activity program to explore the effectiveness and transferability of mainstream health interventions to Aboriginal people. It used quantitative data collected as part of the evaluation of ewba but also collected additional data to explore the project question.

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