The need has been identified in the Commonwealth Government's National R&D Strategy:
Promoting and maintaining good health. Under this priority, the relevant research goal is “Preventative Healthcare”: new evidence-based strategies to promote healthy attitudes, habits and lifestyles and to develop new health-promoting foods and nutraceuticals.
There is a natural synergy between the commodities RDCs represent and the need to educate consumers to have a health natural diet. SmartStart offers the opportunity for a collective investment nationally by the RDCs in addressing this key national priority.
The nutritional module is needed because the current approach utilised by SmartStart focuses predominantly on increasing physical activity to address overweight and obesity. This approach is limited because it addresses only half of the intervention required to maximise outcomes.
Obesity occurs, most simply, because an individual’s energy expenditure (physical activity) is less then their energy consumption (nutritional intake). The existing SmartStart program has been demonstrated to be effective in only a limited number of schools. It is expected that with a greater focus on nutrition, the positive outcomes achieved in schools can be considerably improved.
It is necessary that any program or intervention maximises its impact by delivering a comprehensive cross-sectional approach in addressing this difficult issue. Some people will respond to a physical activity message, others may be more likely to respond to a nutritional message. All schools and individuals, however, will benefit from an intervention that incorporates both physical activity and nutrition in addressing overweight and obesity.
There has been discussion previously – but the need of the project is to complete the SmartStart profile to include nutritional as well as physical fitness information. This in turn may facilitate future comprehensive research opportunities whereby the SmartStart study can be part of a broader strategy that can complement strategies that the FRDC is developing aimed at raising public awareness of the health benefits of seafood.
We believe there are significant opportunities for FRDC and other RDCs to show leadership in adopting a supportive role with the SmartStart initiative.
· Making a positive contribution to the healthy development of young Australians;
· Promoting awareness of the health benefits – nutritional value – (of seafood in the case of FRDC) through the schools;
· Demonstrating responsiveness to the Federal Government’s national research priorities.
Our main goal was to research and review existing programs and literature to determine the most appropriate and efficient method(s) of collecting and profiling nutritional information on an individual basis and also on large population samples. The outcomes of the first objective have allowed us to develop a suitable screening instrument, the SmartStart Food Recorder and the structure of the report to the individual.
We can confidently state that there is a definite need for a project such as this to make a positive contribution to the health of young Australians and to promote the benefits of ‘healthy’ foods like seafood to the general public. Based on the research component of this project, there is no program that can effectively screen the nutritional intake of an individual that is efficient, cost effective and the methodology of which can be applied to large population samples at a quality standard. Our project also has the potential to be linked with fitness and research assessments.