Two people preparing a meal

Food and Movement Research

Our Research

This research group is one of the four themes within Early Start, bringing together a cross-disciplinary team from Health and Society and Education. The overall aim of this group is to consolidate excellence in childhood nutrition and physical activity research (in the birth to 10 years age group). Our research focuses on wellness, early intervention, and population-level approaches to healthy eating and movement behaviours.

We want the next generation to live happier healthier lives than us, so we strive to give them the best start in life through the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity.  

I'm Dylan Cliff, I'm a senior lecturer in health and physical education.   

I co-lead the food and movement research group which is an Early Start research theme.  

We're a group of researchers from the schools of Education and Health and Society who are interested in supporting children's health and development.  

Our research addresses many issues related to healthy eating and physical activity in children, we also conduct research to inform policies research in this area is important because a growing body of evidence indicates that healthy eating and physical activity influence many aspects of children's health and development.   

One of the big issues in our area is the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.   

Our researchers have partnered with the cancer council to understand how much children are exposed to unhealthy food promotions, and the effect that this type of marketing has on their food preferences and their eating habits.  

This research was presented to the senate inquiry on the obesity epidemic in Australia, and contributed to recommendations to restrict the advertising of discretionary foods and drinks on free-to-air television.  

Nationally we know that physical inactivity is a major issue facing today's children, our members from the Food and Movement research group conducted evidence reviews to develop national movement behaviour guidelines related to physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep for children. This research is now having an international impact and is informing the World Health Organization's development of international standards, related to movement behaviours for children.  

The long-term goal of our research is to have a positive impact on the environments that influence children's health behaviours so that healthy eating and physical activity are the easy choice and the social norm. 

The objectives of this group are:

  • to make a significant contribution to the Early Start ‘engagement frontier’ of Play-Based Research by undertaking novel research in the Discovery Space on nutrition and physical activity promotion
  • to contribute to the creation of engaging Discovery Space exhibits/programs, which embed healthy eating and movement behaviours in play-based experiences
  • to support the group’s ECRs/HDRs, through mentoring from senior members
  • to boost the research output of the group
  • to develop impact statements for our research theme
  • to increase the international reputation of Early Start as a place to undertake public health nutrition and physical activity research
  • to contribute to UOW teaching curricula by communicating our research back to Faculty staff and offering student placements


Yazeed Alanazi - Cross-sectional and prospective associations between 24-hour movement behaviours (physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep) and health among children in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Nyamragchaa Chimedtseren - Food labelling policy and consumer perspectives

Kar Chong - 24-hour movement behaviours across the primary-secondary school transition: Associations with physical and psychosocial health in preadolescent children

Ruth Crowe - Observing the healthy eating and physical activity environments within after school programs in NSW Australia

Linda Elbayeh - Translational research of physical activity and nutrition in children 

Emma Gorman - An exploratory study of teachers’ enactment of food and nutrition education in Australian primary schools 

Lyndel Hewitt - Understanding and Promoting Gross Motor Skills in Young Children

Katharina Kariippanon - Investigating the Impact of the Spatial Environment on Adolescents - Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Cognition within the High School Environment

Kalina Kazmierska-Kowalewska - Examining the MOVERS and professional development program: how valid is the rating scale and a professional development intervention to improve child development

Byron Kemp - 'Having Fun Like We Used To': Exploring Social Norms about Physical Activity Choices from Childhood to Adulthood

Erin Kerr - Healthy eating and active play in Family Day Care services

Joao Rodrigues Pereira - Measurement, Levels, Patterns and Correlates of Sedentary Behaviour in Toddlers and Pre-schoolers.

Sarah Ryan - Social Marketing Campaign to Promote Physical Activity to children living in the South Pacific Islands.

Rachel Smith - Examine the potential impact of discretionary food and drink marketing on children’s brand associations and attachments and the mechanisms underpinning the relationship at the implicit and explicit levels

Karen Tonge - The relationship between educator engagement and interaction and children's physical activity in early childhood education and care services

Sumantla Varman - Promoting healthy eating and physical activity in early childhood: an experiential learning intervention at the Early Start Discovery Space

Andrew Woods - Audit of the healthy eating and active living (HEAL) environments of before school care.

Zhiguang Zhang - Environmental Features, Quality of the Childcare Practices and Adiposity in Toddlers


Play-Based Research

A major area for collective action for our group is linked to the Early Start Engagement Frontier of Play-Based Research. The UOW Discovery Space provides an ideal forum for the testing and delivery of novel child healthy eating and movement interventions. These interventions will draw on our group’s current research and programs in other settings for translation into the Discovery Space. Outcomes from these interventions will have broader relevance to other settings where children gather, including early childhood education and care and schools.