Summary information on Pacific OPIC project
Obesity is a major public health problem for Pacific Islanders, Australia and New Zealand. It is responsible for significant social and economic costs to individuals, families, communities and nations.
The Pacific Obesity Prevention In Communities (OPIC) project was a study conducted through a four country collaboration between The University of Auckland (Auckland), Deakin University,(Melbourne), Fiji School of Medicine (Suva) and Tongan Ministry of Health (Nuku’alofa). The aim of the project was to see if community-based interventions against obesity, in multiple settings, could slow the progression of obesity. Specifically to measure the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of whole-of-community obesity prevention programs for youth (ages 12-18 years) in New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Australia. In addition to evaluating the intervention programs, several sociocultural, economic and policy research sub-studies informed the interventions at the community and population levels.
The Pacific OPIC Project was funded for five years by three research funding bodies: the Wellcome Trust (UK), the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), and the Health Research Council (New Zealand) as part of an International Collaborative Research Grants scheme.
Research sites in Fiji and Tonga
In Fiji, eight high schools in the peri-urban area of Nasinu near Suva (intervention area) and eleven comparison schools (matched for ethnic mix) situated in towns on the other (west) side of the main island of Viti Levu were involved in the survey. All students in Forms 3-6 (Form 7 is the final school year in Fiji) attending these schools were invited to participate.
In Tonga, three intervention districts on the main island of Tongatapu (Kolonga, Nukunuku, and Houma) and three comparison high schools on the northern island group of Vava’u were involved in the survey. All students in Forms 1-6 (Form 7 is the final school year in Tonga) who lived in the intervention districts or who were attending the comparison schools were invited to participate.
OBJECTIVES: The studies aimed to:
1) determine the overall impact of comprehensive, community-based intervention programs on overweight/obesity prevalence in youth;
2) assess the feasibility of the specific intervention components and their impacts on eating and physical activity patterns;
3) understand the socio-cultural factors that promote obesity and how they can be influenced;
4) identify the effects of food-related policies in Fiji and Tonga and how they might be changed;
5) estimate the overall burden of childhood obesity (including loss of quality of life); 6) estimate the costs (and cost-effectiveness) of the intervention programs, and;
7) increase the capacity for obesity prevention research and action in Pacific populations.
DESIGN: The community studies used quasi-experimental designs with impact and outcome assessments being measured in over 14,000 youth across the intervention and control communities in the four sites. The multi-strategy, multi-setting interventions ran for 3 years before final follow up data was collected in 2008. The interventions were informed by socio-cultural studies that will determine the family and societal influences on food intake, physical activity and body size perception.
Current status of OPIC
The project was due to have finished in June 2009, however an extension was agreed until mid 2010 to allow full reporting to occur. Analysis of the collected data is being analysed, and a range of reports being produced (including reports to donors and country reports). Feedback sessions are planned in Fiji and Tonga to disseminate the outcomes of the OPIC study to key stakeholders.
To-date a large number of journal publications and conference presentations have been generated by the OPIC team.
- A four country baseline report is available at the following website http://www.deakin.edu.au/hmnbs/who-obesity/reports/2008report/OPIC-Baseline-Report-2008.pdf
- The follow up report of the four country report is available at the following page: files/Country OPIC Fiji report with cover FINAL.pdf
For further information please contact the C-POND team.