Schools and Student Obesity: Research into school environmental associations with student obesity and related factors
Obesity is one of the leading contributors to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. This is predominantly due to a shift in diet towards increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars, coupled with a reduction in physical activity levels.
Schools have become a major intervention site for population-based obesity prevention strategies targeted toward children. The evidence-base is limited, however, in demonstrating the influence that the school environment has on student weight status. This is a result of multiple factors, such as plasticity of effect, control and definition of environment, separation from effects outside and within the school environment, study design, and the chosen analytical approach.
Childhood obesity research within the school setting must give due consideration to the interplay between school- and student-level factors. In 2013, my research proposal was accepted as a part of a wider investigation into childhood obesity in Victoria, Australia, with the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention. Using this data set, my research aims to identify associations, if present, between the type of school environment and the weight status of its students, whilst controlling for factors of influence at different levels of the socio-ecological model.
Kyle is funded through the Charlie Perkins Memorial Scholarship Trust, The British Hearth Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, Jesus College, and is supervised by Dr Emma Plugge, Associate Professor Charlie Foster, and Professor Steven Allender (Deakin University).