Reflections on the NSW healthy children Initiative: A comprehensive state-delivered childhood obesity prevention initiative

Christine Innes-Hughes, Chris Rissel, Margaret Thomas, Luke Wolfenden

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16 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: This paper reflects on characteristics that have supported state-wide scale-up, implementation, program maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of the Healthy Children Initiative (HCI), and reports on how the HCI has become embedded into the policies and practices of primary schools and early childhood services in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Type of program: The HCI is a multistrategy, settings-based approach to prevent childhood obesity. It currently comprises three flagship primary prevention programs that have been scaled up for delivery across NSW. Method: This paper draws on the authors’ experiences implementing and evaluating the HCI to reflect on characteristics that have supported its statewide scale-up, successful implementation, program maintenance, monitoring and evaluation. Results: The ‘Munch & Move’ program, a flagship HCI program, promotes and supports organisational change in relation to healthy eating, physical activity and small-screen-time practices in early childhood services. The program has reached 89.0% (3348/3766) of all services in NSW (December 2017) (i.e. 89.0% of services have been trained and received support to implement the program). Another flagship program, the ‘Live Life Well @ School’ program, promotes and supports healthy eating and active living in primary schools. The program has reached 83.1% (2133/2566) of all primary schools (December 2017). Lessons learnt: NSW has taken the long-term strategic approach, as recommended by the World Health Organization, and maintained continual investment in the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity. This unique delivery model of a state-wide coordinated approach in specific settings, including clear monitoring and reporting systems, has potential for application in other jurisdictions as well as other program contexts. Future directions must include a focus on more population groups, and attention to the food and physical environmental factors that affect active living and healthy eating.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2911908
JournalPublic Health Research and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons License
© 2019 Innes-Hughes et al. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence, which allows others to redistribute, adapt and share this work non-commercially provided they attribute the work and any adapted version of it is distributed under the same Creative Commons licence terms.


  • NSW Healthy Children Initiative
  • childhood obesity
  • comprehensive state-delivered
  • prevention initiative


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