Abstract for: Reducing Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Can the target be reached by 2025?
The increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is raising significant concern about lasting health effects on individuals, as well as social and economic impacts. Target setting for reductions in prevalence can have the advantages of focussing policy and program efforts and eliciting cooperation in responding to challenging problems such as childhood overweight and obesity. However, failures to achieve set targets can also have undesirable demoralising effects. In response to a target set by the New South Wales (Australia) Government to reduce childhood overweight and obesity by five per cent by 2025, a system dynamics model was developed in partnership with policy agencies to examine the effect of various planned and proposed interventions. This paper reports the development of an SD model of childhood overweight and obesity in NSW for the purpose of determining the feasibility of achieving the target and what strategies would be required to do so. Additionally, the paper highlights the value of dynamic modelling in managing expectations for the size and timeliness of likely impacts which can facilitate advocacy efforts and evaluation of progress.