Abstract for: The Role of Behaviour Change in Eating and Physical Activity in the Battle against Childhood Obesity

Obesity results from many influences including genetic and environmental. But eating and physical activity are the two fundamental factors which influence obesity development. This work investigates how food consumption choices and the extent of physical activity have an influence on weight, BMI and the prevalence of obesity in a population of children aged 2-15 years. Around forty years ago, the weight profile of the child (or adult) population was not particularly abnormal. But with increases in energy-dense food consumption and reductions in physical activity, weight, BMI and the prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically, especially since the 1990ís. Results from our model can explain these trends. If no interventions are taken to counteract them then these markers will continue to increase in the future with consequent health effects as the children become adults. In an effort to uncover the most effective interventions, this study highlights the role that a system dynamics model can play to help manage the problem in childhood, particularly through considering behavioural changes. In anticipated developments of this research it is suggested that the Theory of Planned Behaviour could be used as a framework to identify the motivational factors that influence children in their eating and physical activity habits.