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New Curtin trial aims to help WA kids form healthy eating habits

Media release

Western Australian parents who are keen to encourage their children to eat healthier food will be given the opportunity to trial a new tool being developed by Curtin University researchers.

The new six-week online program, which will be launched this month, will consist of six modules that will provide parents with further information on unhealthy eating, eating habits, planning and goal setting, and the role that family members or friends play in encouraging healthy eating in the household.

Research lead Associate Professor Barbara Mullan, from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, said high rates of obesity in Australian children showed parents and caregivers need help to manage their children’s eating behaviours in order to reduce the risk of health-related diseases such as diabetes and tooth decay.

“Previous research suggests that only five per cent of Australian pre-schoolers are consuming the recommended amount of daily vegetables, which is just one of the struggles parents face when it comes to making sure their children are eating healthy food,” Associate Professor Mullan said.

“The new online tool will include information on eating habits for children, quizzes, questionnaires, links to websites, shopping lists, time management and planning tools, and access to a food diary. Parents will also receive information and interactive tasks that will help them develop healthy habits for their children.”

Associate Professor Mullan explained that the new tool was being developed in light of newly published research focusing on the best ways for parents to encourage their children to eat healthier.

“Our research investigated the impact of parents’ feeding behaviours, and how often they believed their children were consuming fruit and vegetables, unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks,” Associate Professor Mullan said.

“We found that mothers who had higher levels of motivation, confidence, and stronger habits, had children who consumed healthier foods. This new tool will help mothers get a better understanding of how to use these behaviours to their advantage and change their mind set, which could in turn help to improve healthier eating.”

Anyone interested in registering for the trial should contact Carlotta Mons on (08) 9266 3015.

The research paper titled, ‘Predicting what mothers feed their pre-schoolers: Guided by an extended theory of planned behaviour’, was co-authored by researchers from Deakin University, Griffith University, and King’s College London in the UK.