Understanding physical activity and sedentary behaviour of mothers and children from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
Dr Susan Paudel aims to discover more about mothers’ and children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour practices in South Asian communities.
Early evidence shows that people living in Australia from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities are less likely to engage in preventative health measures, such as physical activity, despite being at high risk for the development of chronic diseases.
As part of her Executive Dean Health Research Fellowship Dr Susan Paudel is conducting a series of studies to discover more about mothers’ and children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour practices in South Asian communities, and the factors that influence these behaviours.
Those of South Asian background have an increased genetic susceptibility to chronic conditions, develop chronic diseases at a relatively younger age and are more likely to have complications.
According to the most recent census, more than 50 per cent of people living in Australia are either first or second generation migrants. The Australian Government has identified children from CALD backgrounds as a priority group* due to cultural barriers to accessing health services and facilities.
“It’s critical to study children, because physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns develop in early childhood, track across the life course and are associated with health outcomes in adulthood,” she explained.
“But we also need to examine the mothers, because we know they have a strong influence on their child’s behaviours.”
Preliminary results from Dr Paudel’s first study using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health showed that mothers of CALD backgrounds are less likely to meet physical activity guidelines and participate in organised sports.
Next steps include a quantitative survey of mothers of South Asian origin living in Australia, and interviews with mothers and children in these communities.
“The growth of multicultural communities in Australia means that health promotion interventions need to be tailored to these communities and be culturally sensitive,” Dr Paudel said.
“But to do this, we need a better understanding of mothers’ and children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour practices and what influences these behaviours, including individual, family and environmental factors.
“With this knowledge, we can better advocate for and develop strategies to help CALD mothers and children increase their participation in physical activity and limit their sedentary behaviours.”
* Australian Government’s National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People 2020–2030