Obesity is increasing in New Zealand, and there is evidence to suggest this is occurring not only in adults but also in children and adolescents. Obesity in childhood has implications for immediate and long-term health, including progression of obesity into adulthood and the presence of adverse metabolic profiles even in very young children. The APPLE study is novel in trying a wider community approach to address the problem of obesity, and rather than only focusing on already overweight children, involves all children being exposed to an environment which makes exercise and activity fun, and discourages excessive television watching and unhealthy eating patterns. This study aims to actually change the environment in which children live so that appropriate levels of physical activity and healthy foods are more widely available and easily accessible. The intervention programme includes Community Activity Coordinators, increased availability of equipment and services, implementation of school policies regarding drinks and ‘snacktivity’ breaks, community activity days, school walking buses and educational activities. The study involves schools and communities in and around Dunedin and Otago, and has already received much media attention. The two-year programme will be formally evaluated, including cost-effectiveness and cost-utility evaluations if the programme proves to be successful.
East Otago study addresses lifestyle link with obesity; Interest in health programme
Jim Mann, Bill Campbell
7 June 2004
Otago Daily Times
© Copyright 2004 Allied Press Limited. All Rights Reserved.
A two-year health and fitness programme being run in East Otago is attracting international interest, according to the head of the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago, Prof Jim Mann.
More than 270 pupils at the Flag Swamp, Hampden, Palmerston and Waikouaiti primary schools are participating in Apple - A Pilot Programme of Lifestyle and Exercise - which was set up in the second half of last year.
The four schools have all employed part-time Apple exercise co-ordinators, who have developed a range of projects to encourage the children and the wider community to participate in sports, undertake more exercise and make healthier lifestyle choices. Each child's weight and fitness was measured at the start of the programme and is being regularly evaluated.
Addressing more than 80 East Otago residents about the programme at a public meeting in Palmerston recently, Prof Mann said the Government and public health bodies had recognised the need to do something about the problem of obesity in New Zealand.
Ministry of Health figures suggested the major burden of disease came from an inappropriate lifestyle. It was necessary to turn the New Zealand way of life around to become the ''new New Zealand way of life'', he said.
As well as working with children, the Apple co-ordinators were trying to encourage more adult participation in physical activity.
Project co-ordinator Wyn Barbezat, from the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago, said support for the programme had been very high in the four schools.
Special programmes were offered in the Christmas and Easter holidays. Line dancing and ''The Friendship Bus'', which encouraged older children to help younger children get involved in lunchtime exercise, were other activities that had proved popular. More Like This
On This Bus You Do The Walking
By Bill Campbell
Friday, 23 April 2004
Children queue to join the "friendship bus" at Palmerston Primary School each lunchtime.
They do not climb aboard an actual bus, but join their schoolmates in a far less sedentary activity - a lunchtime of exercise and fitness.
The programme is the latest fitness project at Flag Swamp, Hampden, Palmerston and Waikouaiti schools.
Palmerston Primary programme co-ordinator Carmen Brenssell said the "Apple" programme (A Pilot Programme of Lifestyle and Exercise) aimed to encourage children off the couch by monitoring their physical development and fitness through a range of exercise programmes. On the "friendship bus", year five and six pupils helped organise and lead exercise activities for younger children, she said. The children met at the "bus stop" for a particular activity at a set time during lunch.
The two-year Apple programme is co-ordinated by the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago.
Study into child obesity
By Jeff Smith
Saturday, 12 July 2003
A study into ways of preventing childhood obesity is under way at Hampden School.
Known as the "Apple" study, the project by the University of Otago's human nutrition department, involves Hampden and one unnamed Otago school.
Information has been sent to all parents of Hampden pupils about the study and they will shortly receive a letter requesting permission for their child to be part of the study.
Next month, the study team will be at the school to measure the children.
The aim of the study is to see whether intervention could have an effect on childhood obesity.
The Hampden children will be monitored and intervention over diet taken. At the other school there will be no intervention which is why it is not being named.
Measuring next month will provide the baseline information and from that the children will be divided into appropriate groups for the study.
Parents will be given information about nutrition to help children make healthy eating choices.