Overweight And Obesity In Children

Frightening statistics from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey showed that 25%, or 1 in 4 Australian children aged 2-17 are either overweight or obese. Additionally, around 80 % of these obese adolescents would become obese adults, resulting in increased risk of developing subsequent comorbidities including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep aponea and liver problems.

The key question is – how can we stop this cycle?

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There have been various programs implemented in schools to teach and direct children into healthy eating; including traffic light guides, limiting discretionary food sales and promoting healthy choices. But what about when they are not at school, and not in a controlled environment?

Sedentary lifestyles, extensive amounts of screen time, increase quantities of high fat and sugar foods and promotions aimed at children all play a role in excessive weight gain. Something needs to be done.

Studies have shown that children with obese parents are more likely to become overweight or obese themselves. Is the solution to educate the parents or the children? How do we get the message across to those in need? How do we get parents to change 30+ year old lifestyle habits? Is this even possible?

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One thing I think we can all agree on is that a solution needs to be identified. We need to stop this vicious cycle. The only question is, how?

Maddison Evans
WLSA Accredited Practising Dieitian