Stream 1 - Prospective Meta Analysis of four early intervention trials


Stream 1 of the collaboration is conducting a prospective meta-analysis of four early intervention trials for the prevention of obesity which will provide insights into which interventions work best and why. The trials are all based in Australia or New Zealand and include: Healthy Beginnings (Sydney), INFANT (Melbourne), NOURISH (Brisbane and Adelaide) and the Prevention of Obesity in Infancy (Poi.NZ). We are also establishing a repository of early intervention trials from around the world and the details of this can be accessed here.

Contact:  Seema Mihrshahi



Stream 2 - Advancing assessment of obesity-related behaviours in children <5

Systematic review

Members of stream 2 conducted a systematic review to identify and evaluate brief tools that measure obesity-related behaviours in under 5 year olds.  Brief tools are those with 10-15 items, that measure at least one obesity-related behaviour (diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour or sleep).  The review evaluates the psychometric performance of tools and the protocol is registered on the PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews, registration number: CRD42016049738.  The article can be found here.

Contact: Rebecca Golley


Development of a short form measure of obesity-related behaviours

Stream 2 are developing a short form measure of obesity-related behaviours (i.e. diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep). We have used multi-step, best practice  development process to identify which questionnaire items provide substantial “information” on these behaviours and are therefore best to include in a short form assessment tool.

Building on the current validation studies (described above), the final stage of this work will examine the validity and utility of the final short-form assessment tool for obesity-related behaviours.

Contact:  Rebecca Golley


Short food question refinement using cognitive interviewing

Stream 2 members are conducting a cognitive interviewing study to evaluate existing short questions that measure young children’s food intake. This study will improve our understanding of how parents of 3-7 year old children report what, how often and how much their children eat. This will help to improve the measurement accuracy and acceptability of questionnaires that measure young children’s food intake.

Contact:  Dorota Zarnowiecki


Validation of short form dietary intake items

Stream 2 members have developed a short-form set of questions measuring obesity-related dietary intake in 1-5 year old children. We are undertaking work to assess the validity and reliability of these items using an online survey. We are currently looking for parents of 1-5 year old children to take part is this project. Please contact us if you would like to be involved.

Contact: Dorota Zarnowiecki


Stream 3 - Health Economics Research


Stream 3 is currently developing a micro-simulation model that can predict BMI progression throughout childhood. Equations for weight (BMI) gain by age, sex, current BMI and socioeconomic status are being developed. We are analysing existing trial datasets (e.g. Healthy Beginnings, InFANT) to explore factors that are relevant to the model such as healthcare costs and quality of life and their association with child weight status.

Contact:  Alison Hayes



Stream 4 - Translation of evidence into policy and practice


Policy levers in the early prevention of childhood obesity

Emma Esdaile's project sits within Stream 4 of the EPOCH CRE – translation of evidence into policy and practice. This project is focused on the policy levers and public health infrastructure available in New South Wales to translate research into practice. The first stage of this project (currently underway) is to undertake a policy mapping exercise within New South Wales to identify key policy levers as they apply to childhood obesity prevention and to identify gaps. The following stages of the project will involve engaging with stakeholders to best take advantage of identified policy levers to translate evidence-based research into practice and health systems.

Contact:  Emma Esdaile


Infant Program implementation research

This study is investigating factors influencing the implementation of the Infant Program in a community context.  The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research underpins this research, which will explore elements of program participant and facilitator engagement; and barriers and enablers to program sustainability.  Findings will inform the scalability of the Infant Program into real world practice settings.

Contact:  Penny Love


Communicating Healthy Beginnings Advice by Telephone (CHAT) Study Process Evaluation

The experience of mothers and experience of infants / children (as narrated by mothers) participating in the CHAT trial is one of the key factors that will drive its compliance and success. Hence, it is vital to explore enablers and barriers encountered by mothers during trial participation to fine-tune the intervention for generalizability prior to its translation to the large-scale real-world context and for future policy direction. This study will focus on external validity and evaluate participant perception and experience; experience and perception of clinicians and researchers involved in delivery of intervention to identify factors that would contribute to effective translation of intervention.

ContactLakshmi Ekambareshwar


Communicating Healthy Beginnings in existing services (COMBINE): translational research study

There are two components involved in this study. The first part of the study includes exploring the barriers and facilitators with integrating and implementing the Healthy Beginnings program in a sustained child and family health nurse home visit service at Sydney Local Health District. Based on the outcomes of this study, recommendations will be developed for policy makers, health professionals and researchers interested in translational research. The second part of this study will include conducting a rapid service mapping activity to explore home visiting services across other Local Health Districts in NSW. This study will focus on the potential to integrate Healthy Beginnings in others home visiting services across the state.

Contact:  Sarah Taki


Healthy food provision in long day care centres

This study will explore the evidence-practice gap between the availability of evidence-based nutrition and menu planning guidelines for Victorian long day care services and their limited translation in to the onsite provision of healthy food as routine practice.  Using participatory action research, this study will examine the reach, adoption, implementation, effectiveness and maintenance of implementation support strategies currently provided to long day care services.  Support enhancements will be co-developed and implemented with key stakeholders, with changes to practice (menu compliance) monitored over time.

Contact:  Penny Love


Culturally adapting the Healthy Beginnings program for Chinese and Arabic migrant mothers

The aim of this research is to test whether culturally adapting the Healthy Beginnings program is feasible and can increase cultural relevance and acceptability among Arabic-speaking and Chinese-speaking mothers. This research is through Sydney Local Health District and in partnership with many organisations and with input from community members in Sydney. Learnings from this project will help to support migrant mothers in Australia with optimal infant feeding and active play behaviours to reduce risk for overweight and obesity in early childhood.

Contact:  Sarah Marshall


Transforming Obesity Prevention for CHILDren: Looking into the black box of interventions


The TOPCHILD Collaboration is bringing together researchers from around the world to transform early childhood obesity prevention. It will be a world-first to combine individual participant data meta-analysis, deconstructing interventions and predictive modelling to identify key effective components of very early obesity prevention interventions. By unpacking past interventions, we will understand how they work, and for whom. This project will enable researchers to use the most effective components to design new interventions that are efficient, implementable, and scalable, and directly inform policy and practice.


To find out more visit: TOPCHILD website or contact or blog