Child and family nurses’ perceptions of promoting healthy weight for young children

Child and family health nurses (CFHNs) are crucial in their provision of the universal child health checks for children up to the age of five.  As such, they are uniquely positioned to support families developing healthy lifestyle habits with their children.

EPOCH CRE-affiliate, Heilok Cheng, together with Professor Elizabeth Denney-Wilson, led a study to better understand how CFHNs communicate healthy habits messages and areas that they need further support.  The study included a survey with 90 CFHNs in Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health District (58% of CFHNs across both districts) and a follow up interview with 20 CFHNs.

The findings showed that CFHNs considered providing advice on infant feeding and healthy lifestyle behaviours for the whole family as being central to their role.  However, CFHNs reported wanting more support in behaviour change techniques, more in-depth knowledge about strategies to promote healthy weight as well as ways to communicate with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Nurses commented that some families may have strong beliefs which could put the children at higher risks of unhealthy weight, such as using infant formula to settle fussy infants, or ensure extra nourishment to toddlers with fussy eating, or that it is a symbol of higher social status.

Child and family health nurses have strong relationships with young families in the community.  These findings helped to inform priority areas where CFHNs can be supported to promote healthy lifestyle messages to young families

The full article is publically available at For more information, please contact

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