Helping parents improve their childrens’ health

By October 19th, 2009

CSIRO scientists in Adelaide are undertaking a study to test simple strategies to help parents get their kids off the couch and provide them with healthier foods.

“There is an overwhelming amount of information available to parents on food and nutrition,” says CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship research officer, Gilly Hendrie.

“CSIRO’s study will look at whether current health policy and advice helps kids to make positive changes,”

Ms Hendrie says.

“The study will test some practical ways of helping parents to get their children to choose healthier habits, focussing on the common obstacles children and busy lifestyles place in the way of a balanced lifestyle.”

Key findings from the recent National Children’s Nutrition & Physical Activity Survey suggested opportunities exist for change in areas such as eating and TV viewing habits.

“CSIRO’s study will look at whether current health policy and advice helps kids to make positive changes,” Ms Hendrie says. “Most kids drink whole milk so it is important to understand if drinking other types of milk will make a difference to their health and whether they substitute milk with other foods. Kids spend 75 per cent spent more than the recommended amount of time in front of the TV or playing computer games so, the study will also explore whether targeted policy advice has a positive impact on exercise behaviour.

“Both areas are important to develop good habits early to provide a stronger foundation for the next generation of Australians.”

The study runs for 24 weeks and involves families with children aged between four and 13. Participants will need to visit CSIRO six times for 30-60 minutes to record their childrens’ food intake, physical measurements and lipids and cholesterol levels.

Parents will also complete a questionnaire, have their height and weight recorded and attend individual sessions with a dietician to receive detailed advice on nutrition and activity and how to go about changing family habits. Incentives will be offered to participants in acknowledgement of the time and commitment involved.

The study is being funded by Dairy Australia. 

CSIRO is calling for more families to get involved. Interested parties should call CSIRO on Ph: 08 8303 8988 or Email:

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The 10 Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

Media Resources