On-line and in control: PEACH™ (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) Lifestyle

Chief Investigator:

Associate Professor Anthea Magarey, Professor Michelle Miller

Funding Amount:



Flinders University


Childhood obesity is a global problem with little evidence to inform practice. Our PEACH™ RCT program is one of few programs to demonstrate effectiveness and has been translated to community settings in SA and QLD. The program targets parents of overweight primary schoolers, taking a family-focussed approach to improve lifestyles and weight status. Recruitment is difficult due to sensitivity of the issue and poor recognition of the problem; retention is challenged by the need for long term support. The proposed program will address these issues to improve children’s health, state-wide.

Research Outcomes:


Anthea Magarey, Michelle Miller, Lucinda Bell, Rebecca Perry, Louisa Matwiejczyk

Research Completed:


Research Findings:

Many efforts have been made to reduce childhood obesity, including offering family-focussed programs such as PEACH™. The PEACH™ Lifestyle program aimed to address barriers to program participation, such as a lack of time, by providing the program online. Families participated in facilitated online chat room sessions and had access to online resources via the program website. Seventy nine families from metropolitan (72%) and rural (28%) locations enrolled and 38 joined in at least one online chat session. One family completed all six sessions. Findings from 29 families showed that PEACH™Lifestyle supported them to make changes to their parenting strategies and family’s health and wellbeing; gain confidence in making healthy family lifestyle changes; increase their child’s fruit intake and reduce unhealthy foods and drinks; and boost their child’s activity levels and reduce time spent on screens. All families would recommend it to others. The online PEACH™Lifestyle program with facilitator -support enabled families from geographically disperse locations to access the support they needed to make healthy family lifestyle changes.

However barriers to enrolment and engagement remain. Next steps for the PEACH™Lifestyle program will include exploring public or private sector partnerships to enhance reach and recruitment.

Key Outcomes:

Childhood overweight and obesity has risen in the past 30 years. In 2014-5, one in four South Australian children aged 2-17 years were overweight or obese. This poses a major burden to public health as obesity increases the risk of chronic disease and places extra pressure on the health system. Many efforts have been made to reduce childhood obesity and one example is family-focussed weight management programs. Previous findings from one such program, PEACH™(Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) highlighted barriers to engagement and attendance in the face-to-face program, such as a lack of time and work commitments for parents. To address these issues, the PEACH™ Lifestyle program was modified to an online program that offered facilitated group chat support using digital technology.


Program recruitment: a range of strategies including advertising in health services, Flinders University, schools, and Adelaide’s Child magazine were utilised, with 293 families expressing interest in the program.

Enrolment: the recruitment target was met,  with consent obtained from 79 families.

Program implementation: From Oct 2016-Nov 2017, six groups of parents began the online program which offered 6 online 1-hour chat room sessions using Web Ex, run every 3 weeks. Resources were available via the PEACH™Lifestyle website.  A follow up phone call was offered at the end of the program.

Program evaluation: Pre (n=79 and post- (n=29) data on program delivery (process evaluat ion), lifestyle behaviours (impact evaluation) and weight status (outcome evaluation) were collected via an online survey

Summary of Outcomes:

Participants were of average SES and from both metropolitan (72%) and regional/rural areas (28%) (e.g. Clare, Port Lincoln, Port Augusta) . Over half of parents joined at least one online live chat session and one completed all sessions.

Evaluation of the PEACH™ Lifestyle online program found:

Research Papers:

The research team proposes to submit a short communication to a high quality scholarly journal describing the program and outcomes. It is planned that the preparation of this publication will occur between March and April 2018.

Related Publications:

Future Outcomes:

Next steps for the PEACH™Lifestyle program will include exploring public or private sector partnerships to enhance reach and recruitment.


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