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Government policy guidance in Victoria, Australia, encourages schools to provide affordable, healthy foods in canteens. This study analysed the healthiness and price of items available in canteens in Victorian primary schools and associations with school characteristics.
Dietitians classified menu items (main, snack and beverage) using the red, amber and green traffic light system defined in the Victorian government’s School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy. This system also included a black category for confectionary and high sugar content soft drinks which should not be supplied. Descriptive statistics and regressions were used to analyse differences in the healthiness and price of main meals, snacks and beverages offered, according to school remoteness, sector (government and Catholic/independent) size, and socio-economic position.
State of Victoria, Australia
A convenience sample of canteen menus drawn from three previous obesity prevention studies in forty-eight primary schools between 2016 and 2019.
On average, school canteen menus were 21 % ‘green’ (most healthy – everyday), 53 % ‘amber’ (select carefully), 25 % ‘red’ (occasional) and 2 % ‘black’ (banned) items, demonstrating low adherence with government guidelines. ‘Black’ items were more common in schools in regional population centres. ‘Red’ main meal items were cheaper than ‘green’% (mean difference –$0·48 (95 % CI –0·85, –0·10)) and ‘amber’ –$0·91 (–1·27, –0·57)) main meal items. In about 50 % of schools, the mean price of ‘red’ main meal, beverages and snack items were cheaper than ‘green’ items, or no ‘green’ alternative items were offered.
In this sample of Victorian canteen menus, there was no evidence of associations of healthiness and pricing by school characteristics except for regional centres having the highest proportion of ‘black’ (banned) items compared with all other remoteness categories examined. There was low adherence with state canteen menu guidelines. Many schools offered a high proportion of ‘red’ food options and ‘black’ (banned) options, particularly in regional centres. Unhealthier options were cheaper than healthy options. More needs to be done to bring Victorian primary school canteen menus in line with guidelines.
To determine whether primary school children’s weight status and dietary behaviours vary by remoteness as defined by the Australian Modified Monash Model (MMM).
A cross-sectional study design was used to conduct secondary analysis of baseline data from primary school students participating in a community-based childhood obesity trial. Logistic mixed models estimated associations between remoteness, measured weight status and self-reported dietary intake.
Twelve regional and rural Local Government Areas in North-East Victoria, Australia.
Data were collected from 2456 grade 4 (approximately 9–10 years) and grade 6 (approximately 11–12 years) students.
The final sample included students living in regional centres (17·4 %), large rural towns (25·6 %), medium rural towns (15·1 %) and small rural towns (41·9 %). Weight status did not vary by remoteness. Compared to children in regional centres, those in small rural towns were more likely to meet fruit consumption guidelines (OR: 1·75, 95 % CI (1·24, 2·47)) and had higher odds of consuming fewer takeaway meals (OR: 1·37, 95 % CI (1·08, 1·74)) and unhealthy snacks (OR = 1·58, 95 % CI (1·15, 2·16)).
Living further from regional centres was associated with some healthier self-reported dietary behaviours. This study improves understanding of how dietary behaviours may differ across remoteness levels and highlights that public health initiatives may need to take into account heterogeneity across communities.
Childhood obesity prevention is critical to reducing the health and economic burden currently experienced by the Australian economy. System science has emerged as an approach to manage the complexity of childhood obesity and the ever-changing risk factors, resources and priorities of government and funders. Anecdotally, our experience suggests that inflexibility of traditional research methods and dense academic terminology created issues with those working in prevention practice. Therefore, this paper provides a refined description of research-specific terminology of scale-up, fidelity, adaptation and context, drawing from community-based system dynamics and our experience in designing, implementing and evaluating non-linear, community-led system approaches to childhood obesity prevention.
We acknowledge the importance of using a practice lens, rather than purely a research design lens, and provide a narrative on our experience and perspectives on scale-up, fidelity, context and adaptation through a practice lens.
Practice-based researcher experience and perspectives.
Practice-based researchers highlighted the key finding that community should be placed at the centre of the intervention logic. This allowed communities to self-organise with regard to stakeholder involvement, capacity, boundary identification, and co-creation of actions implemented to address childhood obesity will ensure scale-up, fidelity, context and adaptation are embedded.
We need to measure beyond primary anthropometric outcomes and focus on evaluating more about implementation, process and sustainability. We need to learn more from practitioners on the ground and use an implementation science lens to further understand how actions work. This is where solutions to sustained childhood obesity prevention will be found.
To describe the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled dark nudges by leading global food and beverage companies to influence consumer behaviour.
The five most recent annual reports (ranging from 2014 to 2018 or 2015 to 2019, depending on the company) and websites from twelve of the leading companies in the global food and beverage industry were reviewed to identify uses of AI and emerging technologies to influence consumer behaviour. Uses of AI and emerging technologies were categorised according to the Typology of Interventions in Proximal Physical Micro-Environments (TIPPME) framework, a tool for categorising and describing nudge-type behaviour change interventions (which has also previously been used to describe dark nudge-type approaches used by the alcohol industry).
Twelve leading companies in the global food and beverage industry.
Text was extracted from fifty-seven documents from eleven companies. AI-enabled dark nudges used by food and beverage companies included those that altered products and objects’ availability (e.g. social listening to inform product development), position (e.g. decision technology and facial recognition to manipulate the position of products on menu boards), functionality (e.g. decision technology to prompt further purchases based on current selections) and presentation (e.g. augmented or virtual reality to deliver engaging and immersive marketing).
Public health practitioners and policymakers must understand and engage with these technologies and tactics if they are to counter industry promotion of products harmful to health, particularly as investment by the industry in AI and other emerging technologies suggests their use will continue to grow.
‘Food deserts’ and ‘food swamps’ are food retail environment typologies associated with unhealthy diet and obesity. The current study aimed to identify more complex food retail environment typologies and examine temporal trends.
Measures of food retail environment accessibility and relative healthy food availability were defined for small areas (SA2s) of Melbourne, Australia, from a census of food outlets operating in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016. SA2s were classified into typologies using a two-stage approach: (1) SA2s were sorted into twenty clusters according to accessibility and availability and (2) clusters were grouped using evidence-based thresholds.
The current study was set in Melbourne, the capital city of the state of Victoria, Australia.
Food retail environments in 301 small areas (Statistical Area 2) located in Melbourne in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Six typologies were identified based on access (low, moderate and high) and healthy food availability including one where zero food outlets were present. Over the study period, SA2s experienced an overall increase in accessibility and healthiness. Distribution of typologies varied by geographic location and area-level socio-economic position.
Multiple typologies with contrasting access and healthiness measures exist within Melbourne and these continue to change over time, and the majority of SA2s were dominated by the presence of unhealthy relative to healthy outlets, with SA2s experiencing growth and disadvantage having the lowest access and to a greater proportion of unhealthy outlets.
To (i) determine the proportion of deaths from CVD that could be avoided in both rural and metropolitan Australia if public health recommendations were met; (ii) assess the impact on the rural CVD mortality; and (iii) determine if policy priorities should be different by rurality for CVD prevention.
A macro-simulation modelling study of population data. Population, risk factor and CVD death data stratified by rurality were analysed using the Preventable Risk Integrated Model. The baseline scenario was the current risk factor levels (including physical activity, smoking, diet and alcohol). The counterfactual scenario was the population levels of these risk factors expected if public health recommendations were met.
Metropolitan and rural Australia.
Rural- and metropolitan-dwelling adults in Australia.
Both populations would experience similar relative declines in the proportion of deaths from CVD. A total of 14 892 deaths from CVD would be avoided annually; with similar declines in the proportions of deaths by rurality. Critically, the order of policy priorities for public health recommendation attainment would differ by rurality CVD prevention, with addressing fat intakes being a higher priority in rural areas.
Achieving public health recommendations in Australia would result in large declines in CVD mortality. Despite declines in overall CVD mortality under this scenario, an inequality in CVD burden would persist for rural populations. The order of risk factor priorities would differ by rurality.
There is debate over the casual factors for the rise in body weight in the UK. The present study investigates whether increases between 1986 and 2000 for men and women were a result of increases in mean total energy intake, decreases in mean physical activity levels or both. Estimates of mean total energy intake in 1986 and 2000 were derived from food availability data adjusted for wastage. Estimates of mean body weight for adults aged 19–64 years were derived from nationally representative dietary surveys conducted in 1986–7 and 2000–1. Predicted body weight in 1986 and 2000 was calculated using an equation relating body weight to total energy intake and sex. Differences in predicted mean body weight and actual mean body weight between the two time points were compared. Monte Carlo simulation methods were used to assess the stability of the estimates. The predicted increase in mean body weight due to changes in total energy intake between 1986 and 2000 was 4·7 (95 % credible interval 4·2, 5·3) kg for men and 6·4 (95 % credible interval 5·9, 7·1) kg for women. Actual mean body weight increased by 7·7 kg for men and 5·4 kg for women between the two time points. We conclude that increases in mean total energy intake are sufficient to explain the increase in mean body weight for women between 1986 and 2000, but for men, the increase in mean body weight is likely to be due to a combination of increased total energy intake and reduced physical activity levels.
To explore health professionals’ experiences of barriers and facilitators to referring patients for pulmonary rehabilitation in a primary care setting.
Pulmonary rehabilitation involves a multidisciplinary teamwork approach to improving the quality of life for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study aimed to find out about health care professionals’ experiences when referring patients. Reports suggest that a health care professional’s attitude towards a treatment affects the willingness of patients to accept advice.
Five focus group interviews were undertaken with 21 health professionals from North Midlands, UK. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis drawing on the techniques of grounded theory.
Chronic disease management has been delegated to Practice Nurses in many cases leaving some nurses feeling unsupported and some General Practitioners feeling deskilled. Problems with communication, a lack of adequate and timely local service provision, a difficult referral process, time pressures and lack of information were barriers to health care professionals making an offer of pulmonary rehabilitation. An explanatory model is proposed to describe how addressing barriers to referral may improve health care professionals views about pulmonary rehabilitation and therefore may mean that they present it in a more positive manner.
Regional differences in overweight and obesity levels in England have mirrored those of CVD, with higher levels in the North. It is unclear whether the increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity over the last 15 years has been consistent in different regions of the country. BMI data from each of the health surveys for England conducted between 1993 and 2004 were analysed. Annual grouped estimates of the prevalence of overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) for the North and the South of England were produced by appropriately combining regional administrative authorities. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the independence of the geographical effect after adjustment for age and social class. The prevalence of both overweight and obesity in women has risen more quickly in the North than in the South between 1993 and 2004, leading to a widening of inequalities. The prevalence of both overweight and obesity in women in the South has remained reasonably stable since 1997. The prevalence rates of both conditions in men have risen in parallel in the North and the South between 1993 and 2004 by approximately 8 %. The OR for obesity for young women increased between 1993/98 and 1998/2004 from 1·07 (1·00, 1·14) to 1·21 (1·13, 1·30). Widening geographical inequalities in overweight and obesity rates in women could lead to widening inequalities in cardiovascular and other diseases.
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