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Active8: our new program for early years set to pilot this year!

Completely online for parents with their hands full.
We know how important it is to establish healthy habits in the early years in order to lead a long, healthy, and happy life as we grow up.
 
So, we made the Active8 program!
The aim of Active8 is to help 2-6-year-olds make healthy eating and activity habits. We do this by empowering parents and carers to make informed decisions when it comes to their family’s health through education and helpful resources. We encourage a whole family approach to making health change.
 
 
How it works.
Active8 runs for 8-weeks completely online, meaning busy parents can do it anytime, anywhere. It involves a combination of weekly, interactive online sessions on our website and one-on-one support from a qualified health professional via fortnightly health coach appointments.
 
Fun, practical and supportive resources for the whole family are also provided, including posters, info packs, physical activity equipment, and a portion cup to guide food serving.
 
And, those doing the program can also connect with other parents and carers doing Active8 via a private Facebook group and regular Zoom catch-ups. This gives parents and carers the opportunity to share ideas, learn from one another and build a support network to work towards raising a healthy, happy family together.
 
It is evidence based.
Active8 has been developed by our team of expert dietitians, exercise physiologists and health psychologists. It aligns with all current Australian guidelines and recommendations, including the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People. Active8 focuses on three core principles; nutrition, physical activity and behaviour change.
 
Active8 has been adapted from our group-based program for early years (previously known as Toddler Better Health Program). A randomised control trial on this group-based program showed significant improvements in vegetable and snack food intake, and an increase responsiveness to satiety cures. A decrease in food neophobia was also seen at 12-month follow up (Skouteris et al., 2016).
 
While we can’t wait to see the outcomes of our pilot this year, we are anticipating similar positive, health outcomes.
 
The structure of the Active8 program is also based on credible evidence, including:
 
  • A review on the effectiveness of non-group based healthy lifestyle programs that recommends a technology-based delivery mode, including the use of online learning platforms, to achieve higher acceptability and optimise engagement by parents and children (Lombard et al., 2016).
  • A systematic review of family and home-based randomised control trials aimed at treating overweight and obesity in children ages 2–7 years that recommends that interventions focus on improving physical activity and nutrition behaviours, with parents as the primary agent of change (Knowlden et al. 2012). This review also recommends delivery modes that are convenient for parents, e.g. online learning, should be considered, as the time commitment for parents to attend sessions was cited as a major barrier.
  • And, studies show that parental interest in telephone-based coaching to promote healthy habits for children is strong, particularly in parents with children younger than 5 years old (Blaine et al., 2015).

The best part is…

Active8 is now available for parents and carers with kids aged between 2-6 years old across Australia, free of charge as part of the pilot program as of now!

Here’s a further breakdown of Active8.

Online learning sessions
Over 8 weeks, parents and carers complete a 30 minute online activity session each week, focusing on nutrition, physical activity or behaviour change topics. Sessions include interactive activities, narrated content, videos, animations and games that increase engagement while delivering key information in a clear, simple manner. The sessions can be completed at a time that is convenient for the family on a laptop, computer or tablet.

Health coaching
Each family is supported by a qualified health professional through fortnightly phone coaching calls. Health coaches help parents and carers to make healthy lifestyle changes for their family through problem solving, answering questions and providing positive reinforcement. Behaviour change strategies throughout the program are based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The coaching approach incorporates elements of Motivational Interviewing to encourage and support families to make positive changes.

Weekly targets
Each week families work towards three new targets. Targets build on one another and encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours including:
 
  • drinking water
  • eating fruit and vegetables
  • being active
  • reducing screen time, and
  • positive role modelling by parents and carers.

Resources and rewards
Fun, practical and supportive resources are delivered to families, including handouts, posters, physical activity equipment, a portion cup and a label reading tool.

Social support
Regular Zoom meetings take place fortnightly in which families discuss topics and support each other. These are facilitated by a health professional from the Active8team. Parents and carers can also join a closed Facebook group where health coaches encourage families to ask questions, share achievements and discuss challenges within a like-minded group.

Measurements and data
Pre and post program data collected includes physical activity levels and eating habits. Post program reports are provided to referring health professionals with family consent.


Referrals and registrations are now open.

Health professionals can refer eligible participants to the Active8 Program by completing a program referral form and returning to:

Email: info@betterhealthcompany.org
Fax: 1300 325 301
Phone: 1300 822 953
Online: www.theactive8.org

Families can enrol directly via:
Online: www.theactive8.org
Phone: 1300 822 953
Text: 0409 745 645

Then the Active8 team will then contact the family to provide more information and help them get started.

Are you a health professional or community organisation?
Spread the word about Active8 to families by downloading brochures, posters, newsletter inserts and social media tiles here.

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