Australia’s Health Statistics:
- One of the worlds fattest nations….
- One of the world’s highest rates of childhood obesity
- 61% of all adults overweight or obese
- 70% of all adults sedentary
- 70% don’t eat enough vegetables
- 87% of Australians over 15 have a long term medical condition
- 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese
- Children’s energy outputs have dropped by 650 cal in the last 50 years (equivalent to approx 3 hours of walking)
- 40% of children do not play organised sports
- Studies indicate that relative body weight is sustained from childhood to adulthood, and, once children or adolescents are overweight or obese, their weight is unlikely to track backwards
What are the risk factors for childhood obesity
- Food choices – these include choosing high fat and sugary foods instead of healthier options.
- Lack of physical activity – Australian children are less active than they were in the past.
- Spending a lot of time on sedentary pursuits – Australian children watch, on average, around 2½ hours of television a day, as well as spending time using computers and other electronic games. It seems that these pastimes are replacing active ones.
- Overweight parents – a family’s eating patterns can have a major influence on whether a child maintains a healthy weight. Some overweight parents may be less concerned about their children also being overweight than parents who have a healthy weight.
- Genetics – some rare gene disorders cause severe childhood obesity. In many other people, particular genes acting together probably make some children more susceptible to obesity. If there is a family tendency to become overweight, parents need to be even more aware of making healthy food choices for the whole family.
Has society contributed to the obesity problem?
- The overall cost of food has gone down.
- More food is prepared away from home.
- Energy-dense foods and drinks are more readily available.
- Portion sizes have increased.
- Marketing of energy-dense foods and drinks has increased.
- The use of cars has increased.
- The number of two-income families has increased.
- The time spent in paid employment has increased.
- The role of physical education in the school curriculum has reduced.
Questions to ask ourselves
- Is the current problem of childhood obesity being exaggerated?
- Does being overweight really represent a health concern in children?
- Should prevention efforts be directed purely at those at highest risk?
- Is there sufficient evidence to support investment in population-wide obesity prevention programs?
- Do population-wide programs to reduce childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity contribute to eating disorders?