Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Professor Tom Cochrane, Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra (February 2016) 
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 5 October 2018
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Introduction

Obesity has been identified by leading health authorities as a major risk factor contributing to the onset of type-two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Obesity among children and adolescents is linked to an increased risk of long-term health problems and may also diminish the quality of life in the short-term. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that childhood obesity is a complex issue having many interrelated factors, both within and outside of the health sector; including levels of physical activity, dietary habits, environment, education, cultural and socioeconomic status.

The high rate of childhood obesity in Australia is a major health concern for State and Federal Governments. Comparisons with other advanced economies internationally shows that Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world.


Key Messages 

1

Childhood obesity is linked to increased risk of adverse long-term health outcomes. Australian children living today could be the first modern population cohort to expect a decline in life expectancy.

2

Australia has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity among developed countries. 1 in 4 Australian children (aged 2-17) were overweight or obese in 2014-15.

3

The short and long-term impacts of childhood obesity have significant economic implications—for example, the estimated annual cost of physical inactivity in Australia today is AUD $13.8b, including an annual productivity loss of AUD $9.3b.

4

Regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence helps to regulate body weight and establish health promoting lifestyle behaviours that reduce risk factors associated with obesity and chronic diseases.

5

Because of the complex interaction of factors influencing childhood obesity, multi-component intervention strategies appear to be the most effective in moderating or reducing adiposity (that is, severe or morbid overweight) in children and adolescents.




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