Obesity is a significant public health issue within Western Australia (WA), with 24.9% of 5 to 17-year-olds classified as overweight or obese.
The online version of the Better Health Program is a ten-week healthy lifestyle program for 7-13-year-old children classified as overweight or obese. Participants complete weekly 30-minute phone-based consultations, complemented by weekly online learning sessions.
To determine whether a combination of phone coaching and online learning sessions is a viable option when delivering health interventions in Western Australia.
Analysis was conducted on program data, focusing on the impact of the program on participants’ dietary and physical activity behaviours, self-esteem and anthropometric measures.
From February 2019 to January 2021, 299 children aged 7 -13 years from Western Australia (urban, regional and remote) were recruited for Better Health Program (online). Ultimately, 257 participants confirmed their participation in the program and met eligibility requirements. Of those participants, 233 (90.7%) completed seven or more coaching calls and seven or more online learning sessions.
All places on the program were funded by the WA Department of Health and WA Country Health Service in their respective jurisdictions.
Significant changes were observed post-program for child BMI (-0.9 kg/m2, n=208), physical activity hours per week (+5.7 hrs, n=195), self-esteem (+2.5, n=172) and total nutrition score (+5.5, n =207), (p<0.001). In addition, a Wilcoxon signed ranks test found significantly increased consumption of water (Z=-8.07, n=207), wholegrain bread (Z=-7.11, n=207) and improved overall food variety (Z=-9.04, n=206) (p<0.001). Consumption of discretionary foods such as potato chips, lollies and chocolates were also reduced (n=207, p<0.001).
These findings demonstrate that a combination of phone-based and online program delivery can be used to provide effective lifestyle interventions in urban, regional and remote areas of WA.