COBRA (Childhood Overweight BioRepository of Australia) is a comprehensive repository of data and biological samples from overweight and obese children and their families. Established in 2009, as of June 2016, there are approximately 500 children currently participating, with recruitment ongoing. Obesity in early life is associated with many adverse effects on health, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM), heart and liver disease. Unfortunately, to date, traditional methods of research have failed to identify effective prevention and treatment strategies, and large numbers of children and adolescents continue to be at high risk of developing weight-related disease. By collecting baseline environmental, clinical and anthropometric data, biological samples for genetic, metabolic and hormonal profiles, and incorporating opportunities for longitudinal data collection into the study design, COBRA will enable researchers to better understand the complex interplay between environmental and genetic factors that govern disease risk. In time, it is anticipated that this comprehensive approach to data collection will allow early identification of individuals most susceptible to disease, as well as facilitating refinement of prevention and treatment programs.

Current COBRA sub-studies include research into DNA methylation, hypertension, weight loss, quality of life, socio-economic status and living location, breastfeeding, maternal factors, and the use of multiplex urine analysis.

Age 2 – 18 years (mean 11 years)
Year 2009 – ongoing
# 500
Wave Survey 1
(completed 1 week before Clinic Visit 1)
Clinic Visit 1/Survey 2 Clinic Visit 2
(1 week after Clinic Visit 1)
Report type Parent reports for: 1 – 2, 3 – 4, 5 – 10, ≥ 11 year olds
Self (child) reports for: 11 – 13, ≥ 14 year olds
Parent reports for: 1, 2 – 4, 5 – 7, 8 – 12, ≥ 13 year olds
Self (child) reports for: 5 – 7, 8 – 12, ≥ 13 year olds
Clinic visit
Identifiers and miscellaneous
Behavioural problems
Cardiovascular health
Condition specific information
Education and childcare
Environmental exposures (toxins and allergens)
General health
Medications and supplements
Mental health
Neurocognitive development
Physical activity and lifestyle
Reproductive health and pregnancy
Resilience and wellbeing
Respiratory health
Substance use
Bioanalyses and omics
Study Summary
Study name Childhood Overweight BioRepository of Australia
Study abbreviation COBRA
Current principal investigator/s A/Prof Matt Sabin
Dr Brooke Harcourt
Ms Erin Alexander
Current project manager Dr Brooke Harcourt
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Major funding sources Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation
Key reference for study (published study protocol) Sabin, M.A., Clemens, S.L., Saffery, R., McCallum, Z., Campbell, M.W., Kiess, W., Crimmins, N.A., Woo, J.G., Leong, G.M., Werther, G.A., Ukoumunne, O.C. and Wake, M. A. (2010). New directions in childhood obesity research: how a comprehensive biorepository will allow better prediction of outcomes. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 10: 100
Are data available to others outside study team? Yes, with appropriate safeguards and structures in line with the cohort’s ethics and governance processes
Study focus (e.g. social development) To develop a unique biorepository of data and biological samples from overweight and obese children
Sampling frame Presentation to the specialist weight management service at The Royal Children’s Hospital
Study type (e.g. randomised control trial, cohort, case-control) Cohort
Year commenced 2009
Ongoing recruitment? Yes
Current sample (N) ~500 (as of June 2016)
Annual recruitment rate ~70
Intergenerational (e.g. offspring)? No
Imaging (e.g. fMRI, ultrasound, retinal photograph)? No
Linkage (e.g. BioGrid, VPDC, NAPLAN, Medicare)? No
Biosamples (e.g. buccal, blood, hair)? Blood
Ethics approvals or requirements (e.g. specific, extended, unspecified, other)? This project only (Specific consent)
Future research related to this project (Extended consent)
Any future research (Unspecified consent)
Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample (not deceased, not withdrawn)
2009 – ongoing 11 years, 2-18 years ~500 (as of June 2016)

Principal Investigator

A/Prof Matt Sabin

Project Manager

Dr Brooke Harcourt

Study Contact

Ph: 03 9936 6184

Postal Address

COBRA Coordinator – Weight Management Service

Level 5 East
C/O The Royal Children’s Hospital
50 Flemington Road
Victoria, 3052