Culturally adapting Healthy Beginnings for Arabic-speaking and Chinese-speaking mums

About the project

From January 2018 to December 2019, the project team worked with partner organisations and Arabic-speaking and Chinese-speaking mothers in Sydney to culturally adapt the evidence-based Healthy Beginnings program.

This work was supported by the New South Wales Health Translational Research Grant Scheme 2016; Sydney Local Health District; and the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in The Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH).


Aim of the project

The aim of this feasibility study was to test whether adapting the Healthy Beginnings program can increase cultural relevance and acceptability among Arabic-speaking and Chinese-speaking mothers, so that their children and families can also access and gain benefits from the program.


Why this research is important

Australian children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are at greater risk of overweight and obesity in early childhood compared to the mainstream population. This has increased over time. To date, interventions for the early prevention of childhood obesity have mostly focussed on mainstream English-speaking populations in high-income countries.


What this research will add

This is one of the first cultural adaptation of an established, evidence-based early life obesity prevention intervention in Australia. Our findings will provide opportunities to further enhance the program for cultural relevance and acceptability among Chinese and Arabic migrant families. Thorough reporting will offer insights for future cultural adaptations of evidence-based maternal and child health promotion programs.


Outcomes for policy, practice and future directions

Learnings from this project will help to support Arabic-speaking and Chinese-speaking migrant mothers in Australia with optimal infant feeding and active play behaviours to reduce risk for overweight and obesity in early childhood.


The findings will discuss rationale for conducting an effectiveness trial to assess the impact of the culturally adapted Healthy Beginnings program on key modifiable feeding and play behaviours and child weight. The design of this proposed trial would allow for direct comparison between the mainstream and the culturally adapted intervention.


Stay tuned for the findings and research publications!



The project team included A/Prof Li Ming Wen, Prof Chris Rissel, Prof Louise Baur, Dr Sarah Taki, Marianne Kearney, Nancy Tam, Sarah Marshall, Wenjie Liao, Huilan Xu, Linda Elbayeh, Karen Bedford, Julia Shadid, Sally Zhang and Carrie Tang.


We sincerely thank the mothers who participated in the program. We also sincerely thank our many participating partners from the Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, South Western Sydney NSW Local Health Districts; Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS); Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA); Advance Diversity Services; Diversity Kids; NSW Refugee Health Service; and all those part of the Healthy Beginnings mainstream project and members of the advisory and executive committees.


Download the parent resources

Visit the Healthy Beginnings website



Hear from a mother who participated in the program

Read this short article published by Sydney Local Health District