Interventions to get kids moving to optimise their heart health
Professor Kylie Hesketh is using an early childhood family-based intervention to promote physical activity and active play, and to reduce sedentary behaviour, in children aged 0-3 years.
Professor Kylie Hesketh’s Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship is focussed on using interventions to promote physical activity and active play, and to reduce sedentary behaviour, in children aged 0-3 years.
“Getting kids’ health behaviours right from early life is critical for lifelong health and wellbeing. With this project, our ultimate objective is to lower cardiovascular disease risk for the next generation,” she said.
Professor Hesketh is using an early childhood family-based intervention she has developed called Let’s Grow, which is focused on 2-year-old children.
Professor Hesketh is first examining whether Let’s Grow can be expanded beyond its initial purpose of improving movement behaviours in 2-year-old children. She will explore (i) whether Let’s Grow might also improve parents’ and siblings’ movement behaviours; and (ii) whether Let’s Grow continues to have an impact on a child’s behaviours into their early school years.
“Demonstrating that Let’s Grow has broader potential will substantially enhance the appeal to policy makers in the early childhood space,” Professor Hesketh said.
“An intervention which sees parenting practices improve and magnify over time, and which extends to parenting of other children, would potentially have broad and ongoing positive impacts on health.
“Equally, if we don’t find evidence of extended reach, this highlights the need for continued and ongoing support for families across a child’s life and for each new offspring.”
The second aim of Professor Hesketh’s fellowship is to develop a new intervention for early childhood workers to provide them with the support needed to reinforce good health behaviours.
“Parents have identified the need for cohesive support and consistent messaging to achieve effective promotion of health behaviours across early childhood settings,” Professor Hesketh said.
“At the moment support is fragmented, inconsistent or non-existent. This new program will use the same messaging used in our existing family-based programs INFANT (for babies) and Let’s Grow (for toddlers) in a program designed for early childhood workers.
“Parents look to these professionals for advice and support around their own parenting. Our program will bolster this support, ultimately leading to better outcomes for children.”
Professor Hesketh said the interventions were being designed with stakeholder input to be scalable.