Benefits of SWAP IT
Developed by researchers at the University of Newcastle, SWAP IT is an effective, low cost, evidence-based behavioural change program that improves children’s nutrition. SWAP IT supports parents and carers to improve children’s eating habits by helping them to ‘swap out’ unhealthy sometimes lunchbox foods for healthier everyday alternatives. The program helps reduce the intake of energy from sometimes foods consumed over the school week, like chips, biscuits and cake.
SWAP IT Improves Children’s Nutrition
Through a program of research involving 44 Australian primary schools and 6 525 children, SWAP IT has been found to be effective at reducing unhealthy food in children’s lunchboxes. Overall there was an average decrease of 117.26 kilojoules per day from sometimes foods in child lunchboxes, in those schools who implemented the SWAP IT program (5). This equates to approximately 600 kilojoules per week, or the equivalent of 1 serve of sometimes foods, packed in children’s lunchboxes. Two thirds (66%) of parents and carers reported a change in their children’s eating habits following the SWAP IT program.
The Impact of SWAP IT
Reductions in sometimes food intake of the size shown in the SWAP IT research trials can lead to important individual and health system benefits. Modelling has shown that decreasing discretionary food consumption by 600 kilojoules a week could result in a decrease in prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes and result in savings to the healthcare system of up to $1.35 million (6).
Parents and Schools Approve of the SWAP IT Program and its Delivery
Both parents and school principals approve of the SWAP IT program and its delivery. Of the 239 parents, 40 key school contacts (i.e. principals and teachers), from 150 schools involved in the SWAP IT research:
- 66% of teachers and 45% of key contacts agreed that the program was acceptable and resulted in positive improvements in the items packed in lunchboxes at their school.
- 100% of school principals would recommend the program to other schools.
- 93% of parents found the school lunchbox guidelines helpful
- 90% of recipients found weekly delivery of messages acceptable
- 79% of parents found the messages helped them make positive swaps
See Current Research on SWAP IT
- Sutherland R, Brown A, Nathan N, Yoong S, Janssen L, Chooi A, et al. A Multicomponent mHealth-Based Intervention (SWAP IT) to Decrease the Consumption of Discretionary Foods Packed in School Lunchboxes: Type I Effectiveness–Implementation Hybrid Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(6):e25256.
- Ma Y, He FJ, Yin Y, Hashem KM, MacGregor GA. Gradual reduction of sugar in soft drinks without substitution as a strategy to reduce overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes: a modelling study. The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology. 2016;4(2):105-14.