Be Active Eat Well (BAEW)

Organization Sponsor: Deakin University


Program Description

BAEW was a multifaceted community capacity-building program promoting healthy eating and physical activity for children (aged 4-12 years) in the Australian town of Colac. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of BAEW on reducing children’s unhealthy weight gain. A quasi-experimental, longitudinal design was employed and anthropometric and demographic data was collected from children in four preschools and six primary schools. The study concluded that building community capacity to promote healthy eating and physical activity appears to be an effective way to reduce unhealthy weight gain in children.

The goals and objectives of Be Active Eat Well were to build community capacity to promote healthy eating, healthy weight, and physical activity among children aged 4-12 and their families.

The intervention program was implemented by the lead agency Colac Area Health, along with Colac Otway Shire and Colac Neighbourhood Renewal and Deakin Univeristy which provided training and evaluation support. 

The 2003-2006 BAEW program in Colac was a safe, equitable, effective and cost-effective program for preventing unhealthy weight gain in children.

Funding Sources: 

Deakin University

  • Short-term funding (1-3 years)
Strategies For Sustainability: 

The BAEW project funding finished in 2006, although, throughout Victoria, a number of other healthy eating and physical activity promotion programs were available to communities, including ‘Kids, Go For Your Life’. In 2009, a research team from Deakin University and The University of Melbourne conducted a follow-up evaluation in Colac and the Region to answer the questions outlined above.

Impact Of Program: 

• The evaluation of the BAEW intervention in Colac (2003-2006) demonstrated positive outcomes of: increased community capacity for promoting healthy weight in children; improved food and physical activity environments; and significantly reduced weight and waist gain in primary school children compared to the rest of the Region. • The impacts were greater in children from more disadvantaged households. • The BAEW intervention did not increase underweight or dieting practices, or reduce children’s self esteem.

• Community capacity grew substantially in Colac during BAEW (2003-2006) and this remained high in 2009, despite there being no additional external resources for the program from the Department of Health after 2006.

Evaluation Tools: 

Reducing unhealthy weight gain in children through community capacity-building: results of a quasi-experimental intervention program, Be Active Eat Well.


  • computer assisted telephone interview


Individual behaviour measures:

anthropometric data collection

Key Elements Towards Success: 
  • Cooperation among key stakeholders
  • Capacity Building
  • Strong understanding of the issue-related environment (physical, psychological, social, political, economic)
Challenges To Meet Them: 

For every dollar invested in BAEW by the Department of Health, the Colac community invested a further $2.80 in time and money. • The BAEW program was cost-effective in terms of reducing overweight and obesity outcomes using standard benchmarks for cost-effectiveness (ie it cost less than $50,000 per disabilityadjusted life year saved). • Maintenance of benefit is a key assumption in cost-effective analyses. Modelling indicates that, to remain within the cost effective range, around 70% of the program’s effect in terms of lower body weight would need to be maintained by those participants into adulthood.

Length and Stage of Project: 

Be Active Eat Well (BAEW) was a 3-year (2003-2006) community-wide childhood obesity prevention demonstration program in Colac.

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