Mission statement

The Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network (ACAORN) was established to foster and coordinate research collaboration among Australian and New Zealand child and adolescent obesity research groups to identify key research questions and seek funding to address these with high quality research.

ACAORN functioned from 2002-2015 during which time its goal was achieved. Thanks to the support of ANZOS this website archive is available as a record of ACAORN. This also provides access to the information, tools and resources developed by the network that continue to be used and remain relevant today.

Please be aware the information, contacts and links are current only to 2015.


  1. To foster the development (and maintenance) of a coordinated Australasian program of research into basic, clinical and population health aspects of child & adolescent obesity.
  2. To promote collaboration with international child and adolescent obesity researchers and communicate with relevant professional and scientific associations about ACAORN research activities.
  3. To engage with agencies responsible for research priorities and funding to increase resources for child and adolescent obesity research.
  4. To identify and develop opportunities for training, exchange, and awards in child and adolescent obesity research.
  5. To raise the profile of childhood obesity research.


ACAORN’s history

The Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network (ACAORN) was established in November 2002 with a grant from the NSW Department of Health in response to the challenges posed by the current epidemic of child and adolescent obesity. The goal of ACAORN was to bring together the Australasian paediatric and adolescent obesity research community to collaborate on a co-ordinated and appropriately funded range of research activities.

ACAORN had around 70 members from many different research groups, representing Australia’s leading paediatric and adolescent obesity researchers. All are committed to the goal of performing research to develop effective prevention and treatment programs, to improve outcomes and to reduce the prevalence of child and adolescent overweight and obesity. The initial funding from the NSW Department of Health enabled these researchers to meet face-to-face to discuss the strengths and weaknesses in paediatric obesity research and to devise new strategies and solutions to address these issues.

During its lifespan, ACAORN made significant progress towards its goals. The ACAORN meetings enabled members to:

  • determine the most pressing research issues;
  • set up Special Interest Streams to address these issues; and
  • plan and commence research into these areas.


Past child and adolescent obesity stream co-leaders:

  • Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour – Tony Okely, Louise Hardy, Jim Dollman
  • Food & Nutrition – Michael Dibley, Karen Campbell, Clare Collins, Anthea Magarey, Rebecca Golley, Tracy Burrows
  • Management – Kate Steinbeck, Louise Baur, Rachel Taylor, Matt Sabin
  • Prevention – Boyd Swinburn, Elizabeth Waters, Kerry O’Brien, Colin Bell, Elizabeth Denney-Wilson, Karen Campbell, Rachel Jones
  • Outcomes & Complications – Sue Byrne, Melissa Wake, Michael Dibley



The NSW Department of Health has provided funding for some activities of the Australasian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network (ACAORN). The ACAORN Executive is looking at a range of strategies to ensure ongoing funding for ACAORN activities.
Several ACAORN members (LA Baur, M Wake, KS Steinbeck) were awarded a grant, for the period 2007-2009, from the Foundation for Children for a project entitled “Clinical and community studies of child and adolescent obesity research: a coordinated approach”. This project aims to provide further infrastructural and web-site support for the Childhood Obesity Pooling Project, a database of measurement tools, and a network of tertiary obesity clinics.
The State of Queensland, through the Queensland Department of Health, has generously agreed to provide ACAORN with beneficial funding for three years from 2010 to 2012. Funding of $30,000 per annum will assist with maintenance of the ACAORN website, employment of a part-time project officer, and continuation of collaborative work between ACAORN members to raise the profile of child and adolescent obesity research, both nationally and internationally. Queensland Health has agreed to an additional boost in funding to ACAORN for the period 2013-2014.

Governance and management

Louise Baur, Tony Okely and Jo Salmon are  Directors of ACAORN and together with the ACAORN Secretary, forming the Executive. The Executive is responsible for the financial and administrative management of ACAORN, for reporting to the funding body and for making the final decisions on the functions of ACAORN. The Executive considers the views of ACAORN members carefully before making decisions.

ACAORN members

The members of ACAORN have significant track records in obesity, nutrition or physical activity research. The table below shows the members of ACAORN, and their research group.

Prof Steven Allender Deakin University
A/Prof Margaret Allman-Farinelli University of Sydney
Dr Lisa Barnett Deakin University
Professor Jennifer Batch Queensland Health
Prof Louise Baur The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney; University of Sydney
Dr Colin Bell WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific,Philippines
Dr Leah Brennan Monash University
Dr Tracy Burrows University of Newcastle
A/Prof Susan Byrne University of Western Australia
A/Prof Karen Campbell Deakin University
Dr Michele Campbell  Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne 
Dr Alison Carver Deakin University
Dr Dylan Cliff University of Wollongong
Prof Clare Collins University of Newcastle
Prof David Crawford Deakin University
Prof Lynne Daniels Queensland University of Technology
Prof Peter Davies University of Queensland
Dr Liz Davis University of Western Australia
Dr Elizabeth Denney-Wilson University of Technology, Sydney
A/Prof Michael Dibley University of Sydney
A/Prof Jim Dollman University of South Australia
Prof Vicki Flood University of Wollongong
A/Prof Sarah Garnett Division of Research, The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Ms Kay Gibbons Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne
A/Prof Lisa Gibbs The McCaughey Centre, University of Melbourne
Prof Billie Giles-Corti University of Western Australia
A/Prof Tim Gill University of Sydney
Dr Rebecca Golley University of South Australia
Dr Louise Hardy University of Sydney
Dr Gilly Hendrie CSIRO Animal Food and Health Sciences
Dr Kylie Hesketh Deakin University
Prof Andrew Hills Mater Medical Research Institute and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University
Dr Trina Hinkley Deakin University
Dr Clare Hume Deakin University
A/Prof Rachel Huxley University of Sydney
Dr Rachel Jones University of Wollongong
Dr Amina Khambalia University of Sydney
Dr Kathleen Lacy Deakin University
Dr Julie Lawrence University of Otago
Dr Rachel Laws Deakin University
A/Prof Gary Leong University of Queensland
A/Prof David Lubans University of Newcastle
A/Prof Anthea Magarey Flinders University
Dr Kimberley Mallan Queensland University of Technology
A/Prof Sarah McNaughton Deakin University
Prof Philip Morgan University of Newcastle
Prof Kerin O'Dea University of South Australia
Prof Tony Okely University of Wollongong
Dr Melody Oliver Auckland University of Technology
Dr Anne-Maree Parrish University of Wollongong
Dr Alexia Pena University of Adelaide
Dr Rebecca Perry Flinders University
Prof Ron Plotnikoff University of Newcastle
Dr Anna Rangan University of Sydney
Dr Nicky Ridgers Deakin University
Prof Elaine Rush Auckland University of Technology
Dr Matthew Sabin Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
Prof Jo Salmon Deakin University
A/Prof Andrea de Silva-Sanigorski University of Melbourne
A/Prof Sue Sayers Menzies Centre for Health Research, Darwin
Dr Sarah Shultz School of Sports and Exercise; Massey University, New Zealand
Dr Natalie Parletta University of South Australia
Dr Alison Spence Deakin University
A/Prof Nicola Spurrier Flinders University
Dr Rebecca Stanley University of South Australia
Prof Katharine Steinbeck University of Sydney
Prof Boyd Swinburn Deakin University
Prof Barry Taylor University of Otago, New Zealand
A/Prof Rachael Taylor University of Otago, New Zealand
A/Prof Anna Timperio Deakin University
Prof Stewart Trost University of Queensland
Prof Helen Truby Monash University
Dr Margarita Tsiros University of South Australia
Dr Jenny Veitch Deakin University
Prof Alison Venn Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania
Prof Melissa Wake Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
Prof Elizabeth Waters The McCaughey Centre, University of Melbourne
Dr Joanne Williams Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne
Dr Luke Wolfenden University of Newcastle
Dr Avigdor Zask NSW Health