Steven Allender

Steven Allender
Deakin University · Population Health Strategic Research Centre

About

288
Publications
89,062
Reads
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9,991
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2009 - present
Deakin University
Position
  • Co-Director
February 2002 - December 2012
University of Oxford
Position
  • Director of the BHF Coronary Heart Disease Statistics project

Publications

Publications (288)
Article
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Background Systems science approaches have demonstrated effectiveness in identifying underlying drivers of complex problems and facilitating the emergence of potential interventions that are locally tailored, feasible, sustainable and evidence informed. Despite the potential usefulness of system dynamics simulation modelling and other systems scien...
Article
Background: We investigated the effect of the Whole of Systems Trial of Prevention Strategies for Childhood Obesity (WHO STOPS) intervention on children's objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time (ST). Methods: We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial with children in grades 4 (∼9-10 years old) and grade 6 (∼11-12 years o...
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Background Coalitions are a popular mechanism for delivering community-based health promotion. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize research that has quantitatively analyzed the association between coalition characteristics and outcomes in community-based initiatives targeting the social determinants of health. Coalition characterist...
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Objective: To report the prevalence of healthy weight and related behaviours among Victorian Aboriginal and non‐Aboriginal children and explore associations between these factors and health‐related quality of life (HRQoL). Methods: Analysis of cross‐sectional data from two cluster randomised controlled trials using logistic and linear mixed models....
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Introduction: Residents of rural areas internationally typically experience chronic disease risk profiles worse than city dwellers. Poor diet, a key driver of chronic disease, has been associated with unhealthy food environments, and rural areas often experience limited access to healthy, fresh and affordable food. Objective: This study aimed to...
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Objective: To synthesize peer-reviewed literature that utilize co-creation principles in healthy food retail initiatives. Methods: Systematic review of six databases from inception to September 2021. Screening and quality assessment were carried out by two authors independently. Studies were included if they were conducted in food retail stores,...
Article
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Collaboration between community members, researchers, and policy makers drives efforts to solve complex health problems such as obesity, alcohol misuse, and type 2 diabetes. Community participation is essential to ensure the optimal design, implementation and evaluation of resulting initiatives. The terms ‘co-creation’, ‘co-design’ and ‘co-producti...
Article
Objective: Whole-of-community interventions are a promising systems-based approach to childhood obesity prevention. A theorized driver of success is "Stakeholder-Driven Community Diffusion" (SDCD): the spread of knowledge about and engagement with obesity prevention efforts from a committee of stakeholder representatives. We focus on the potential...
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Background Community-based interventions have shown promise in reducing childhood overweight and obesity. However, they have been critiqued for using linear logic models. Participatory community-based systems approaches are posited as addressing the complexity of non-linear relationships in a local context. Community members are empowered to unders...
Article
Background: Access to green space (e.g., parks and gardens) has been associated with child health and wellbeing, whereas blue space (e.g., coasts, lakes, and rivers) is understudied. Our aim was to determine whether proximity to the coast was associated with primary school children's weight status, modifiable health-related behaviors, and health-re...
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Objective To describe the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled dark nudges by leading global food and beverage companies to influence consumer behaviour. Design The five most recent annual reports (ranging from 2014–2018 or 2015–2019, depending on the company) and websites from 12 of the leading companies in the global food and beverage ind...
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Background There is a crisis of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific Islands, and poor diets are a major contributor. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis will likely further exacerbate the burden on food systems. Pacific Island leaders have adopted a range of food policies and regulations to improve diets. This includes t...
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Context: In Australia, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are geographically proximal to where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People reside and are valued for providing holistic and culturally safe primary health care. Partnering with ACCHOs in research is appropriate for redressing health inequities experienced b...
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Objective ‘Food deserts’ and ‘food swamps’ are food retail environment typologies associated with unhealthy diet and obesity. This study aimed to identify more complex food retail environment typologies and examine temporal trends. Design Measures of food retail environment accessibility and relative healthy food availability were defined for smal...
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This study aimed to explore the diagnostic accuracy of the Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA) malnutrition risk screening tool when used to score patients based on their electronic medical records (EMR), compared to bedside screening interviews. In-patients at a rural health service were screened at the bedside (n = 50) using t...
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Introduction Applying systems science in public health trials is a recent innovation in childhood obesity prevention. This paper aims to use systems science conventions to propose a theory of change for community-based interventions aiming to build capacity and use exemplars from systems science for obesity prevention to describe how this approach...
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Background Approximately a quarter of Australian children are classified as overweight or obese. In high-income countries, childhood obesity follows a socio-economic gradient, with greater prevalence amongst the most socio-economically disadvantaged children. Community-based interventions (CBI), particularly those using a systems approach, have bee...
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Background : Depression, anxiety and their related symptoms are a leading cause of global disability and economic burden. Three quarters of all mental disorders occur by the age of 24 years making the identification of modifiable risk factors during these years imperative for prevention. This study examined associations between diet and psychologic...
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Objective India is experiencing an increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Mobile health technology may be a strategy to reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. This paper reports on the effect of a mobile health intervention on cardiometabolic risk factors. Methods The mobile health and diabetes intervention wa...
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Within the field of chronic disease prevention, research efforts have moved to better understand, describe, and address the complex drivers of various health conditions. Change-making is prominent in this paper, and systems thinking and systems change are prioritised as core elements of prevention research. We report how the process of developing a...
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Background Early childhood overweight and obesity increased substantially in high-income countries throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The flattening or reversal of this trend since the early 2000s might conceal widening inequalities. This study aimed to identify trends in body-mass index Z score (BMIz) among children aged 1–3·5 years in Victoria (Aust...
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Objectives To explore whether the physical activity (PA) environment (walkability, greenspace and recreational facilities) surrounding regional primary schools is associated with children’s PA levels, active transport and weight status. Limited research on this topic has been conducted outside of major cities. Design Cross-sectional ecological stu...
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Systems thinking is increasingly applied to understand and address systemic drivers of complex health problems. In Australia, group model building, a participatory method from systems science, has been applied in various locations to engage communities in systems-based health promotion projects. To date there is limited evidence regarding GMB use w...
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Background Obesity is a chronic disease that contributes to additional comorbidities including diabetes, kidney disease and several cancers. Change4Campbelltown implemented a ‘whole of system’ approach to address childhood overweight and obesity. We present methods to track implementation and stakeholder engagement in Change4Campbelltown. Methods...
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Background Environments within schools including the physical, social-cultural and policy/practice environments have the potential to influence children’s physical activity (PA) behaviours and weight status. This Australian first study comprehensively examined the association(s) of physical, social-cultural and policy/practice environments with PA,...
Article
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Objective: This study aimed to test the effectiveness of the Whole of Systems Trial of Prevention Strategies for Childhood Obesity (WHO STOPS Childhood Obesity) for behavioral, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and BMI outcomes. Methods: This was a cluster randomized trial of 10 communities randomly allocated (1:1) to start intervention in...
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Background: To make effective progress towards a global reduction in obesity prevalence, there needs to be a focus on broader structural factors, beyond individual-level drivers of diet and physical activity. This article describes the use of a systems framework to develop obesity prevention policies with adolescents. The aim of this research was...
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Socio-economic inequality in the physical activity environment surrounding primary schools may contribute to socio-economic gradients in physical activity and childhood obesity levels. Using a cross-sectional study design, ordinary least squares and logistic regressions were fitted to assess variation in walkability and greenspace within 1 km of pr...
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Prior to the 2020 outbreak of COVID-19, 70% of Australians’ food purchases were from supermarkets. Rural communities experience challenges accessing healthy food, which drives health inequalities. This study explores the impact of COVID-19 on food supply and purchasing behaviour in a rural supermarket. Group model building workshops explored food s...
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Objective: To undertake a census of the healthfulness of food venues providing lunch or dinner meals in a rural Australian setting and compare healthfulness by remoteness, using two measurement tools. Methods: A census of the rural local government area food venues was undertaken using two validated tools: the Healthfulness Rating Classification Sy...
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Complex health problems require multi-strategy, multi-target interventions. We present a method that uses machine learning techniques to choose optimal interventions from a set of possible interventions within a case study aiming to increase General Practitioner (GP) discussions of physical activity (PA) with their patients. Interventions were deve...
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Participatory systems thinking methods are often used in community-based participatory research to engage and respond to complexity. Participation in systems thinking activities creates opportunities for participants to gain useful insights about complexity. It is desirable to design activities that extend the benefits of this participation into co...
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Background: Community-based interventions have shown promise in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic. Such efforts rely on the knowledge of key community members and their engagement with the drivers of obesity in their community. This paper presents the protocol for the measurement and evaluation of knowledge and engagement among community l...
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Introduction The recent Lancet Commissions report on The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change highlights the need for comprehensive actions to address the global epidemic of obesity. The Campbelltown - Changing our Future project utilised a community led participatory systems mapping approach to develop interventions to ad...
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Background In 2015 two billion people were estimated to be above a healthy weight globally, contributing to a rapid increase of non-communicable diseases. Evidence indicates multi-faceted and community-led interventions are most effective in addressing the complexity of childhood overweight and obesity. Campbelltown - Changing our Future is a pract...
Preprint
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Objectives: To test the effectiveness of the Whole of Systems Trial of Prevention Strategies for Childhood Obesity (WHOSTOPS) for behavioural, health related quality of life and Body Mass Index (BMI) outcomes. Design :Cluster randomized trial of ten communities randomly allocated (1:1) to start intervention in 2015(step one) or in 2019 (after 4-yea...
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In-patient malnutrition leads to poor outcomes and mortality, and it is largely uninvestigated in non-urban populations. This study sought to: (1) retrospectively estimate the prevalence of malnutrition as diagnosed by dietetics in the rural Australian setting; (2) establish the proportion of all patients at “nutritional risk”; and (3) explore asso...
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Previous research has reported associations between diet and risk of depression and anxiety; however, this is underexplored in emerging adulthood (EA; 18–29 years). This systematic review examined associations between diet quality and common mental disorders and their related symptomatology in the published EA literature. A systematic search accord...
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Objective The aim of this study was to understand, from the perspective of policy makers, who holds the responsibility for driving evidence-based policy to reduce the high burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in rural Australia.Methods Qualitative interviews were conducted with policy makers at the local, state and federal government levels in Au...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been declared a crisis in the Pacific Islands, and poor diets are a major contributor to this. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis will likely increase the burden on food systems, exacerbating this situation. Pacific Island leaders have been proactive in adopting a range of food polic...
Article
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Background: SEA Change Portland is a systems-based approach implemented in Portland, Victoria that utilises local community resources to sustainably prevent and reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. Action is implemented by community-led task teams with differing priority areas, and supported by a steering committee representative of four co...
Article
Background. Whole-of-community interventions have been recommended and show promise for preventing obesity; however, research to understand the mechanisms underlying their success or failure is lacking. Complex systems approaches may be useful to address this gap. Purpose. To describe the evolution and utilization of qualitative and quantitative co...
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Obesity prevalence is inequitably distributed across geographic areas. Food environments may contribute to health disparities, yet little is known about how food environments are evolving over time and how this may influence dietary intake and weight. This study aimed to analyse intra-city variation in density and healthiness of food outlets betwee...
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The objectives were to systematically investigate the multiple dimensions of sleep and their association with overweight or obesity among primary school‐aged children. CINHAL, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, Medline, Cochrane, Embase, and PubMed databases were searched for papers reporting on an association between children's sleep and weight status. Studie...
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Issue addressed: Healthy Together Victoria (HTV) was a large-scale intervention that adopted a systems approach to prevention. It established the capability of an inexperienced workforce by cultivating their understanding of systems theories, tools and practice. This paper explores how this capacity was developed and what helped and hindered the p...
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Background: In developed economies, obesity prevalence is high within children from some culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. This study aims to identify whether CALD groups in Victoria, Australia, are at increased risk of childhood overweight and obesity, and obesity-related dietary behaviours; compared to their non-CALD coun...
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Background: In Australia, around 67% of adults and 25% of children (5-17 years) are currently overweight or obese (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18, 2018). The Campbelltown - Changing our Future study will translate 'a whole of system' approach, previously trialed in rural communities...
Article
There is strong support across multiple sectors for the implementation of policies to create healthier food environments as part of comprehensive strategies to address obesity and improve population diets. The existing evidence base describing food retail environments and their relationship with health outcomes is limited in several respects. This...
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Background: Understanding levels of community readiness can result in prevention efforts that align with communities' ability and capacity for change and, therefore, be more effective and sustainable. Our study aimed to use baseline (pre-intervention) community readiness scores to assist with the development of obesity prevention strategies, and t...
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Community-based systems interventions represent a promising, but complex approach to the prevention of childhood obesity. Existing studies suggest that the implementation of multiple actions by engaged community leaders (steering committees) is of critical importance to influence a complex system. This study explores two key components of systems i...
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(1) Background: Childhood overweight and obesity is a significant and preventable problem worldwide. School environments have been suggested to be plausible targets for interventions seeking to improve the quality of children’s dietary intake. The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which the current characteristics of the school...
Article
Objective To (i) determine the proportion of deaths from CVD that could be avoided in both rural and metropolitan Australia if public health recommendations were met; (ii) assess the impact on the rural CVD mortality; and (iii) determine if policy priorities should be different by rurality for CVD prevention. Design A macro-simulation modelling st...
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Shape Up Under 5 (SUU5) was a two-year early childhood obesity prevention pilot study in Somerville, Massachusetts (2015-2017) designed to test a novel conceptual framework called Stakeholder-driven Community Diffusion. For whole-of-community interventions, this framework posits that diffusion of stakeholders' knowledge about and engagement with ch...
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We report on the first 18 months of two communities' efforts using methods inspired by community‐based participatory system dynamics for the development, implementation, and evaluation of whole of community efforts to improve the health of children. We apply Foster‐Fishman's theoretical framework for characterizing systems change to describe the in...
Article
Objective: Successful whole-of-community childhood obesity prevention interventions tend to involve community stakeholders in spreading knowledge about and engagement with obesity prevention efforts through the community. This process is referred to by the authors as stakeholder-driven community diffusion (SDCD). This study uses an agent-based mod...
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Background: Prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is increasing worldwide. Identifying and targeting individuals at high risk, is essential for preventing T2D. Several studies point to mobile health initiatives delivered through personal smart devices being a promising approach to diabetes prevention, through weight loss. The aim of the mobile health...
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Background: Behavioral factors such as physical activity, sedentary behavior and diet have previously been found to be key modifiable determinants of childhood overweight and obesity, yet require further investigation to provide an understanding of their potential influence on sleep outcomes along with the sleep-obesity nexus. Methods: The study in...
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Adolescence is the primary age of onset for common psychiatric disorders and thus presents a singular opportunity for prevention, particularly in school settings. Research efforts have advanced the understanding of diverse and interacting risk and protective factors for anxiety and depression. Such factors span individual, family, school, economic,...
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Background: Rural Australian populations experience an increased burden of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) compared to their metropolitan counterparts, similar to other developed countries, globally. Policy and other efforts need to address and acknowledge these differences in order to reduce inequalities in health burden. This paper examines rural...
Article
Executive summary Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health challenges. Climate change can be considered a pandemic because of its sweeping effects on the he...