An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what if you’d rather have leche flan instead of an apple?

On 3 September – 10 September, the Australian government is holding a health awareness campaign focusing on the health of children from multicultural backgrounds.

It is a chance for the NSW health services and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to show there are health information and resources available to Australians whose first language may not be English. According to latest statistics, nearly one in three residents of NSW was born overseas.

Based on health research collected from 2006-2009 (not new data but still relevant), Filipinos are somewhere in between relative to other cultural background when it comes to healthy weight.

The benchmark number is that just more than half or 51.9 per cent of NSW adults were overweight or obese (a BMI of 25 or over). By contrast, a higher proportion of adults born in Lebanon (72.4 per cent), Italy (70.6 per cent) and Greece (64.8 per cent) were overweight or obese.

On the lighter end of the scale, only 19.8 per cent of adults born in China and 19.6 per cent from Vietnam are overweight or obese.

As for adults born in the Philippines, more than two in five (41.8 per cent) were overweight or obese compared with the overall NSW adult population.

These are concerning statistics given the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables in the country and the exercise-friendly weather. Although to put in context, the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service has reported in its website that in general, overseas-born residents have better health than Australian-born residents.

“This reflects the healthy migrant effect whereby people in good health are more likely to meet eligibility criteria, and to be willing and economically able to migrate,” it said.

But here’s the kicker. The research found that the relative health advantage that migrants have over Australian-born people tends to decrease the longer they’ve lived in Australia.

There are migrant resources that Filipinos can access wherever they live in NSW (see list below). As part of the Multicultural Health Week, the NSW Ministry of Health, and other supporters are providing educational materials that encourage young children to adopt healthy eating habits, including:

  • Choosing more fruit and vegetables
  • Choosing water to drink
  • Being active
  • Washing their hands

In short, Filipino parents can encourage above common sense ways for their kids to maintain a healthy weight and not become mataba or tabatchoy (translates to ‘fat’ in Filipino and NOT to be used to describe your loved ones under any circumstances).

For more information, visit

List of Migrant Resource Centres

Auburn Migrant Resource Centre
17 Macquarie Road, Auburn NSW 2144
Phone: (02) 9649 6955; fax (02) 9649 4688; email:

Baulkham Hills/Holroyd/Parramatta Migrant Resource Centre
15 Hunter Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
Phone: (02) 9687 9901; fax (02) 9687 9990; email:

Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre
Level 2, 125 Main Street, Blacktown NSW 2148
Phone (02) 9621 6633; fax (02) 9831 5625; email:

Botany Multicultural Resource Centre
3 General Bridges Crescent, Daceyville NSW 2032
Phone (02) 9663 3922; fax (02) 9662 7627; email:

Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre (Cabramatta Community Centre)
Community Centre, Cnr Railway Parade and McBurney Road, Cabramatta NSW 2166
Phone (02) 9727 0477; fax (02) 9728 6080; email:

Canterbury/Bankstown Migrant Resource Centre
2nd Floor, 59-63 Evaline St Campsie NSW 2194
Phone (02) 9789 3744; fax (02) 9718 0236; email:

Illawarra Migrant Resource Centre
70 Kembla Street, Wollongong NSW 2500
Phone (02) 4229 6855; fax (02) 4226 3634; email:

Inner West Community Settlement Support Scheme
Level 2, 29-31 Belmore Street, Burwood NSW 2131
Phone: (02) 9715 3497; fax (02) 9715 3839

Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre
Level 4, 171 Bigge Street, Liverpool NSW 2170
Phone (02) 9601 3788; fax (02) 9601 1398; email:

Macarthur Migrant Resource Centre
Level 2, 101 Queen Street, Campbelltown NSW 2560
Phone (02) 4627 1188; fax (02) 4628 6068; email:

Migrant Network Services (Northern Sydney Ltd)
Level 3, 20 George Street, Hornsby NSW 2077
Phone (02) 9987 2333; fax (02) 9987 1619; email:

Newcastle and the Hunter Region Migrant Resource Centre
Chaucer House,  8 Chaucer Street, Hamilton NSW 2303
Phone (02) 4969 3399; (02) 4961 4997; email:

St George Migrant Resource Centre
552 Princes Highway, Rockdale NSW 2216
Phone: (02) 9597 5455; fax (02) 9567 3326; email:


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