Background

A combination of factors carried over from origin countries and adopted from host countries increases overweight/obesity risk in children of immigrants from low-and-middle-income-countries. With this mixed methods study we explored how cultural and status linked pathways of maternal origin countries connected to children’s body image dissatisfaction and weight management strategies.

Methods

For this mixed method study,we conducted cross-sectional data analysis of 10-11-year-old children from the Birth cohort of the “Longitudinal Study of Australian Children” . The qualitative component of this study comprised of face-to-face interviews withimmigrant mothers from South Asian countries and their 8-11-year-old children.

Results

The quantitative analysis of cohort data showed that three-quarters of children had body image dissatisfaction and were engaged in weight management.This proportion was even higher in children of mothers from low-and-middle-income-countries. The maternal and children interviewsrevealed that maternal body image standards were drawn from their origin countries, but the children followed Australian norms. Despite increased obesity awareness amongst mothers, they desired higher body weight for their children. However, children were aware of the stigma, unpopularity and low status associated with high body weights in the host society.

Conclusions

Our study shows that well-designed, culturally responsive preventive health strategies are needed to reduce cultural and status based obesity inequalities amongst immigrants.