Bangladeshi children living in east London have a much higher risk of poor nutrition and obesity than the average child in the UK. Poor nutrition effects people all the way until adulthood and can lead to poorer health status and chronic diseases e.g. heart disease, diabetes, oral health problems etc. For decades, various national initiatives have been rolled out in a bid to reverse the problem, but never before has a model to improve nutritional outcomes been adopted from a developing country and applied to a relevant ethnic community in the UK.
The project will use a proven model from South Asia where the introduction of female health workers into local women’s groups has significantly improved maternal and neonatal survival rates. It will explore parents’ and carers’ perceptions of the barriers to maintain optimal feeding practices in children, as well as exploring their knowledge of child feeding practices and various sociocultural factors that influences this. Following an initial stage to assess the feasibility of introducing the model that has worked in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, a female health volunteer-led community mobilisation intervention will be implemented, where workers will spend time with local groups of women in east London to improve their knowledge, skills and empowerment in relation to health and nutrition. The results of this project will benefit patients by developing an infrastructure in the community to support South Asian mothers in making choices about nutrition that support the healthy development of children. It is hoped that if this model works it will be transferable to other clinical problems and other communities.