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Keywords:

  • Economic;
  • obesity;
  • policy;
  • socio-cultural

Summary

Obesity is increasing worldwide with the Pacific region having the highest prevalence among adults. The most common precursor of adult obesity is adolescent obesity making this a critical period for prevention. The Pacific Obesity Prevention in Communities project was a four-country project (Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia) designed to prevent adolescent obesity. This paper overviews the project and the methods common to the four countries. Each country implemented a community-based intervention programme promoting healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weight in adolescents. A community capacity-building approach was used, with common processes employed but with contextualized interventions within each country. Changes in anthropometric, behavioural and perception outcomes were evaluated at the individual level and school environments and community capacity at the settings level. The evaluation tools common to each are described. Additional analytical studies included economic, socio-cultural and policy studies. The project pioneered many areas of obesity prevention research: using multi-country collaboration to build research capacity; testing a capacity-building approach in ethnic groups with very high obesity prevalence; costing complex, long-term community intervention programmes; systematically studying the powerful socio-cultural influences on weight gain; and undertaking a participatory, national, priority-setting process for policy interventions using simulation modelling of cost-effectiveness of interventions.