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Helping communities to more effectively prevent obesity

The rise of overweight and obesity is one of the biggest social and health issues facing communities globally.

Australia ranks 5th among OECD countries for obesity, where in 2017-18, 67% of Australian adults were overweight or obese.

What is more concerning is children’s level of obesity has doubled over the past decade.

Obesity in children can affect their overall health, educational attainment and quality of life. Young people with obesity are highly likely to remain obese as adults, increasing the risk of related chronic illness.

Evidence from research has shown that preventative approaches are important to minimise unhealthy weight gain leading to overweight and obesity. Key opportunities for prevention exist at a number of critical life stages including preconception and pregnancy; infancy and childhood; and adolescence.

CAPITOL will work alongside communities, helping to develop, implement and evaluate community-based, health promotion approaches which focus on obesity prevention through nutrition, physical activity and the social determinants of health.

We now know that if we can prevent obesity in these critical life stages, there are far better health outcomes in the long term.

Capitol, YouTube video


CAPITOL (which stands for - Critical Age Periods in the Trajectory of Obesogenic Lifestyles) is a community-based, community-driven project which aims to build capacity on the North West Coast of Tasmania to more effectively prevent obesity. The project is funded by the Federal Government’s MRFF (Medical Research Future Fund) Keeping People Out of Hospital.

Through researchers based at the University’s College of Health and Medicine, and College of Arts, Law and Education, CAPITOL will work to provide the analysis and support to empower local communities to identify, design, implement and evaluate approaches which address determinants of obesity in the critical life stages.

The project will help build capacity in the region, by identifying a number of evidence-based ‘best bets’ to springboard community-wide engagement and a longer-term co-designed program of work to build on the 3-year funded Project

CAPITOL is unique in that it works alongside other established initiatives in the community, evaluating the effectiveness of these initiatives, as well as identifying existing strengths and areas of need. CAPITOL will help communities co-design initiatives, which will be community-owned and community-driven to ensure they are self-sustaining.

All members of the community are encouraged to get involved in the project including parents, educators, health professionals, businesses, sporting clubs, community groups and more. Key stakeholders in the community are currently involved, including the Premier’s Health and Wellbeing Advisory Council.