Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science / Child Health Promotion Research Centre
Recent national efforts to stem the alarming growth of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia have highlighted the importance of preventative strategies that focus beyond the child-on parents, families, primary health care providers (PHCPs) and child care services. But, while such efforts have to date focused on school-based interventions, once poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles have set in, a growing body of research is indicating that PHCPs can play a more influential role in monitoring and modifying factors affecting prevention and early intervention in preschool children. This paper presents the findings of a systematic review to: (a) identify key barriers to the effective engagement of PHCPs with parents and child care staff in the promotion of healthy weight among children aged 2-6 years, (b) appraise "promising" interventions for strengthening the capacity of PHCPs to effectively deal with these barriers, and (c) synthesise policy options to encourage and engage PHCPs. The study draws on the lessons of promising interventions to highlight the urgent need to address organisational, attitudinal, knowledge, skills and training barriers, to facilitate the engagement of PHCPs in different settings-based environments (clinical, child care, home and community).