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Population health

New in-language resources to encourage healthy lifestyle habits early in life

New resources encouraging healthy eating and active play from the start of life have been developed for culturally and linguistically diverse families in Melbourne’s west.

The Western Public Health Unit (WPHU) has partnered with Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) to adapt existing resources from its INFANT program, an early years intervention that seeks to encourage healthy lifestyle habits from the start of life.

It’s the first time INFANT (INfant Feeding, Active play and NuTrition) resources have been made available in different languages, giving more young families access to the program. The resources have been translated for Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese speaking families.

Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas MP launched the resources at a Maternal Child Health Care Centre operated by Brimbank City Council with Vietnamese-speaking families from a new parents group in attendance.

The INFANT program brings maternal and child health and early years professionals together with new parents and their babies to share evidence-based information about the importance of nutrition and active play to support a healthy start to life.

Associate Adjunct Professor Veroncia Graham of the Western Public Health Unit said that 44 per cent of the Western Health catchment speak a language other than English and that the availability of in-language resources meant more families would benefit.

“Programs like INFANT can have a huge long-term impact on communities. Analysis shows that if the 51,000 children aged 0-2 years-old living in our catchment have just one additional serve of vegetables per day and they keep that habit for life, it’s possible that 10,000 people will not go on to develop heart disease in the future,” Adjunct Associate Professor Graham said.

INFANT co-founder, IPAN Professor Kylie Hesketh, said research conducted over 15 years had shown how effective INFANT is to establish healthy lifestyle behaviours that continue to pay dividends throughout childhood and beyond.

“INFANT gives parents and carers the knowledge, skills, and confidence to raise happy healthy babies,” Professor Hesketh said.

“We’re delighted that these in-language resources will allow us to bring INFANT to a wider range of families.”

INFANT is an internationally recognised program and was recently cited by the US Center for Disease Control as the strongest international model for widespread implementation of a community complementary feeding program.

The in-language resources are now available at the INFANT website.