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Improving young children’s physical activity to reduce obesity

Associate Professor Hayley Christian, Institution: University of Western Australia

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2024


Fewer than 1 in 10 children currently meet Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years that focus on physical activity, sedentariness and sleep. Home, neighbourhood and early childhood education & care are the most crucial environments influencing a child’s movement behaviours and health. Early intervention is key to establish a solid foundation for lifelong CV health. Over the next 4 years I will build the PLAY Spaces & Environments for Children’s Health & Development (PLAYCE) program (inter)nationally to develop, implement and evaluate guidelines, and cost-effective, scalable and sustainable interventions that will improve young children’s movement behaviours and health outcomes.

This comprehensive research program includes:
  1. Developing early childhood education and care policy and practice strategies to improve young children’s movement behaviours
  2. Cohort studies to track the impact of early movement behaviours on the incidence of overweight/obesity in children
  3. Testing intervention strategies to enhance the physical activity and health benefits for children with a family dog. I will work with policy-makers, practitioners and the community to translate this work.

My leadership, unique skill set, established team (18 research staff & students), research track record (91 publications, $5.3M funding) and collaborative networks place me at the forefront of early childhood intervention research. I will build Early and Mid-Career Researcher capacity internally and externally to develop interdisciplinary researchers undertaking high-quality policy relevant health research focused on the early years. I will lead the next level of evidence required to inform robust frameworks for evidence-based decision-making for national guidelines and programs supporting positive early movement behaviours and cardiovascular health for children.

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