A review of strategies used to engage and promote healthy lifestyle behaviours to children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds

Families who come from non-English speaking backgrounds (culturally and linguistically diverse, CALD) often face health challenges when they move to Australia. Finding effective ways to connect and communicate with these diverse families, especially those with young children, is important to prevent widening gap in health status among CALD families.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts reviewed published research globally that targeted young children from CALD families to promote healthy habits and prevent obesity, from pregnancy up to five years old. They found 14 studies, mainly from the USA, Australia, and northern European countries. These programs used culturally appropriate and easy to understand health promotion materials, such as translated or simple English materials, videos, and pictures. They also had people who could speak both languages or understand both cultures to help deliver the program. Of the studies that reported on program effectiveness, four of them found that the programs had no or only short-term positive effects on children’s health habits and weight.

Including cultural brokers and using translated or easy English materials seemed to be important in bridging the language and cultural gaps when promoting health to children from CALD backgrounds. However, more research is needed to strengthen the evidence base.  Future targeted programs could use different communication strategies and evaluate their effectiveness.

Read the full paper here.

Ahern, S,  Marshall, S,  Wallbank, G, et al.  Communication strategies and effectiveness of early childhood obesity-related prevention programs for linguistically diverse communities: A rapid review. Obesity Reviews.  2023;e13634.

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