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The Pacific OPIC Project (Obesity Prevention in Communities): Action Plans and Interventions

Background: The Pacific OPIC Project (Obesity Prevention In Communities) includes whole-of-community intervention programs in four countries (Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia) aimed at reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity in youth.

Development of action plans: At each intervention site, preliminary interviews were conducted with youth to identify the potential socio-cultural barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and regular physical activity in order to attain and sustain a healthy body size. This and other information was presented at a 2-day workshop with community stakeholders, including youth. The participants then prioritised the components for a draft action plan which was later consolidated through further community consultation.

Action plan objectives: Each action plan had two overall aims: to build community capacity and to promote healthy weight. The first three objectives in each action plan were on capacity building, social marketing messages, and evaluation. Next were a set of four to five behavioural objectives with associated strategies involving programs, events, social marketing and environmental change. Lastly, each site had one or two innovative or developmental objectives.

Progress: Interventions began in all sites from 2005, with the action plans guiding implementation priorities. The initial behavioural objective for targeting in Fiji was eating regular breakfast and meals throughout the day, for Tonga it was physical activity, and for Australia and New Zealand it was increasing water consumption and decreasing consumption of sweet drinks.

Conclusions: The action plans have provided the basis for community engagement in the project, the guide to the implementation of activities and the template for the evaluation plan.