Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 865–883 | Cite as

Exploring Factors Influencing Childhood Obesity Prevention Among Migrant Communities in Victoria, Australia: A Qualitative Study

  • Andre M. N. Renzaho
  • Julie Green
  • Ben J. Smith
  • Michael Polonsky
Original Paper


Despite the availability of numerous obesity prevention initiatives in developed countries including Australia, rising childhood obesity levels have been found among migrant communities which contribute to widening obesity-related disparities in these countries. We sought to understand the factors influencing the participation of migrant communities in childhood obesity prevention initiatives. We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews among 48 migrant parents from African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Vietnamese origins living in disadvantaged areas of Victoria, Australia to explore their views on childhood obesity and its prevention. Thematic analysis showed low obesity literacy among migrant communities, cultural influences negatively impacting their healthy lifestyle behaviours and cultural, family-level and community-level barriers impacting their participation in childhood obesity prevention initiatives. There is an urgent need to improve obesity literacy among migrant communities using bicultural workers in order to improve their responsiveness to childhood obesity prevention initiatives. Health interventionists are urged to incorporate culturally-mediated influences in the design of obesity prevention programs to achieve energy balance and maintain healthy weight among migrants. Such culturally appropriate approaches have the potential of reducing the widening ethnic-related obesity disparities in Australia.


Childhood obesity CALD communities Migrants Obesity prevention Obesity disparities 



The authors would like to thank Sheila Cyril for managing the project including the of recruitment COPAC participants, the implementation of the COPAC meetings, the documentation of all meeting proceedings, conducting the training of bilingual workers, coordinating the recruitment of participants, and helping with the data collection. The authors thank the members of the African Review Panel and COPAC as well as study participants and bilingual staff for their support and assistance in participant recruitment and data collection.


This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant LP130100485. The authors are independent from the funding body and were responsible for the design and conduct of this study. The author AR is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT110100345.

Author Contributions

AR is the lead investigator who conceived the study, supervised the data analysis, contributed to the “Results” section and supervised the overall implementation of the study. JG, BS and MP are chief investigators of this project who supervised data collection, data analysis and interpretation of results. All authors contributed to the development of this manuscript and approved the final version of the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors received a research grant from he Australian Research Council (Linkage grant LP130100485). At the time of the study, the author AR was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT110100345). The authors are independent from the funding body and were responsible for the design and conduct of this study.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involved human participants and were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. The study was approved by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee, Approval No. CF 14/1443–2014000678.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andre M. N. Renzaho
    • 1
  • Julie Green
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ben J. Smith
    • 5
  • Michael Polonsky
    • 6
  1. 1.Humanitarian and Development Studies, School of Social Sciences and PsychologyWestern Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia
  2. 2.Population Health, Murdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Raising Children NetworkParenting Research CentreEast MelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.Dept. of Marketing, Deakin Business SchoolDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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