Flinders HELPP for obesity takes national award

Flinders University's HELPP program.
Flinders University led the Healthy Eating Local Policies Program (HELPP), funded by SA Health. Photo: Shutterstock

A statewide healthy eating project led by Flinders University and funded by SA Health has won a national award in recognition of its work with local government to develop and implement policies across South Australia to prevent obesity.

The Healthy Eating Local Policies and Programs (HELPP) project was awarded the 2015 national Obesity Prevention Planning and Design Award by the Collaboration of Community-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS).

To win a CO-OPS Obesity Prevention Award, an initiative must demonstrate best practice in community engagement, program design and planning, evaluation,implementation and sustainability, and governance and transparency.

Professor Michelle Miller, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University said governments and community organisations played a key role in creating supportive healthy eating environments at a time when around 60 per cent of South Australian adults and nearly a quarter of South Australian children are overweight or obese.

“More than 30 local governments worked towards a healthy eating policy supported by the Local Government Association, Heart Foundation and HELPP and are leading the way in Australia,” said Professor Miller.

“Working collaboratively with local governments and community organisations has allowed our program to deliver meaningful change in communities through our healthy eating policies and delivering food literacy programs within public, council owned facilities.”

“Eating more fruit and vegetables and replacing sugary drinks with water are two effective healthy eating strategies which can assist with maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases.”

The HELPP project demonstrated the application of thorough design and planning – understanding the context of the problem, and designing a feasible and sustainable solution to meet the needs of the community.

Director of CO-OPS, Dr Penny Love said that applying the existing evidence and following best practice principles enhances the potential impact and sustainability of community-based obesity prevention initiatives.

HELPP was initiated with funding from SA Health in 2011 and local governments are now continuing the work through the Public Health Act 2011 and Community Health and Wellbeing Plans.

The Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University is continuing to work with local governments through research and evaluation and student projects and has recently appointed a Community Nutrition Engagement Officer to support this important work.


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