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Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Completed research - obesity prevention research & evaluation

Population monitoring

Public awareness of risk factors for cancer

Principal Investigators: Belinda Morley, Helen Dixon

Aim(s): To measure changes over time in perceptions of body weight, physical activity and dietary factors in relation to cancer risk among the Victorian population.

Funding body: Cancer Council Victoria

Contact: Belinda Morley at CBRC


Program evaluation and Social marketing

Natural exposure evaluation of the 'Piece of String' ad 

Principal Investigator(s): Belinda Morley, Melanie Wakefield

Aim(s): To determine whether exposure to the 'Piece of String' cancer and abdominal obesity ad, during a regularly viewed program, was associated with increased awareness of the link between cancer and weight, and with increased sef-awareness of weight status.

Years: 2007-2009

Funding body: Cancer Council Victoria, Australian Research Council

Contact: Belinda Morley at CBRC

Lifestyle media message-testing: Finding the keys to successful public health campaigns promoting healthy weight

Principal Investigators: Helen Dixon, Sarah Durkin, Melanie Wakefield, Sarah Maloney and other external colleagues

Aim(s): To assess the potential effectiveness of a range of existing television advertisements pertaining to healthy weight, healthy eating and physical activity. It aims to identify effective elements of such advertisements in order to make recommendations about the kinds of messages and executional characteristics that could be further pursued as part of effective healthy weight and lifestyle mass media campaigns.

Year(s): 2012-2014

Funding body: Australian National Preventive Health Agency


Food marketing and labelling

Experimental study assessing children's reactions to TV advertisements for healthy and unhealthy foods

Principal Investigator(s): Helen Dixon, Melanie Wakefield, Victoria White, David Crawford (Deakin University)

Aim(s): To assess the impact of varying combinations of TV advertisements for unhealthy and healthy foods on children's dietary knowledge, attitudes and intentions, in order to evaluate the potential of various regulatory approaches to children's food advertising to contribute to promoting healthy eating among Australian children.

Funding body: Cancer Council Victoria, Australian Research Council, The Financial Markets Foundation for Children

Contact: Helen Dixon at CBRC

Experimental research on effects of common junk food promotion strategies on parents and children

Principal Investigator(s): Helen Dixon, Maree Scully, Melanie Wakefield

Aim(s): To assess parents' and children's responses to common, potentially misleading strategies for marketing unhealthy child-oriented foods via food packaging. Specific promotion techniques tested were nutrition content claims, sports celebrity endorsements and premium offers (children only).

Year(s): 2009-2012

Funding body: Cancer Council Victoria

Contact: Helen Dixon at CBRC

Effects of counter-advertising on parent/child susceptibility to junk food promotions

Principal Investigator(s): Helen Dixon, Maree Scully, Melanie Wakefield

Aim(s): Funded by the Bupa Health Foundation and Cancer Council Victoria, this project comprises two separate intervention studies to be conducted with parents and children respectively to assess if the presence of targeted counter-advertisements leads to less positive evaluations of, and preference for, unhealthy food products featuring front-of-pack promotions.

Year(s): 2011-2013

Funding body: Bupa Health Foundation and Cancer Council Victoria

Contact: Helen Dixon at CBRC

Kilojoule menu labelling study

Principal Investigator(s): Belinda Morley, Maree Scully, Philippa Niven, Jane Martin, Helen Dixon, Melanie Wakefield

Aim(s): To explore the influence of point-of-purchase kilojoule information on food choices. Specifically, the study collected on Victorian adults' understanding and use of kilojoule information provided in fast food restaurants at the point of sale, and their propensity to make healthier food choices with the addition of this information.

Year(s): 2011-2012

Funding body: Obesity Policy Coalition


Public opinion research

Public support for obesity prevention policy proposals

Aim(s): To collect national data on public acceptability for various forms of regulation to support a healthy eating environment and help prevent childhood obesity.

Principal Investigator(s): Belinda Morley, Helen Dixon, Jane Martin

Funding body: Obesity Policy Coalition

Contact: Belinda Morley, at CBRC

Public awareness and attitudes of marketing of unhealthy food on TV 

Principal Investigator(s): Belinda Morley, Kaye Mehta (Flinders University)

Year(s): 2005

Funding body: Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (CFAC)

Contact: Belinda Morley, at CBRC


Determinants of activity, eating behaviour and weight

Effects of cancer information, vegetable preparation guidance and tailored home vegetable delivery on family dietary practices

Principal Investigator(s): Helen Dixon, Robyn Mullins, Melanie Wakefield, David Hill

Aim(s): To determine whether changes in vegetable and fruit consumption, dietary knowledge, attitudes, perceived barriers, purchasing and preparation practices occur in response to:

  • dessiminating personalised dietary feedback and information on the link between vegetable and fruit consumption and cancer prevention;
  • providing weekly recipes and menu plans;
  • providing people with fuit and vegetables in addition to dietary feedback, health information, weekly recipes and menu plans.

Funding body: National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – forming part of the ECHIDNAS Program Grant

Contact: Helen Dixon at CBRC