Current Healthy Beginnings study

The Communicating Healthy Beginnings Advice by Telephone (CHAT) study is a randomised controlled trial funded by NSW Ministry of Health under the NSW Health Translational Research Grant Scheme 2016 (ID number: TRGS 200).

The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of delivering the Healthy Beginnings program using short message service (SMS) or telephone support, in conjunction with mailed written intervention materials, to reduce child BMI, promote healthy infant feeding practices and active play. Women at third trimester of pregnancy who are over the age of 16 years, able to communicate in English and have a mobile phone are eligible to participate in the study.

From March-August 2017 research assistants will be approaching pregnant women accessing hospitals in Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, South Western Sydney and Southern NSW Local Health Districts with information about the study. Posters, flyers and social media will also be used as part of the recruitment process. All aspects of the program will be explained to women who, if they are interested in participating, will be required to register and provide written consent. A telephone survey will be conducted one week after registration for baseline data collection followed by randomisation.


The participants will be randomised into three groups, two intervention groups and one control. The intervention groups consist of: (i) SMS support + mail-outs; and (ii) Telephone support + mail-outs. The control group will receive usual care, in which all new mothers receive along with health safety promotion material and a newsletter on “Kids’ Safety” four times a year. Both intervention groups will receive six packages of written materials by mail according to the developmental stage of their baby (third trimester of pregnancy, 0 - 2 months, 2 - 4 months, 4 - 6 months, 6 - 8 months and 8 - 12 months).

This material was designed to be delivered to coincide with early childhood developmental milestones, particularly with regards to feeding practices, nutrition and physical activity, and parent-child interactions. All the written material, telephone support and SMS support was developed by  Dietitians, Child & Family Health Nurses and Lactation Consultants with extensive experience in working in maternal and child health based on the successful Healthy Beginnings Trial (2007-2010).

Alongside the written material, the participants allocated to the SMS intervention group will receive standardised text messages reinforcing the health promotion content two times/week for four weeks at each developmental stage. Participants will be able to interact with the research nurses by texting back in response to the SMS if they choose to.

The participants allocated to the telephone support intervention group will be contacted by the trained research nurses following each posting of written material. The nurses will discuss the health promotion messages and address the participants concerns and needs regarding how to raise a healthy baby.


To assess the effectiveness of the CHAT study, data collection will take place on three occasions (baseline, 6 months and 12 months of child age) through surveys conducted by a market research company. Data will be collected on various nutrition measures (breastfeeding, introduction of solids, serving size and food intake, parent-child feeding interaction, the continuation of offering milk in a bottle beyond 12 months, the provision of high sugar fruit juices or soft drinks), physical activity, parents’ knowledge of and attitudes towards childhood obesity, as well as partner and family support, family functioning and demographics.  In addition, the weight, length and waist circumference of the child will be collected from the Child Personal Health Record (blue book).

The unique aspect of the study is that it explores the impact of low cost interventions in promoting healthy infant feeding practices and active play. Additionally, it is anticipated the involvement of highly skilled Child & Family Health Nurses will widely contribute to promoting practices on raising a healthy baby with their extensive experience in working in maternal and child health.

The CHAT study was developed in 2016 by Professor Li Ming Wen (Sydney Local Health District Health Promotion Service and University of Sydney) and Professor Chris Rissel (NSW Office of Preventive Health), together with Professor Louise Baur (Westmead Children’s Hospital) University of Sydney). This is a partnership project   with participating partners from the Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, South Western Sydney and Southern NSW Local Health Districts.

For more information about the study, please visit:

Our Healthy Beginnings Protocol

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