Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
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: 1 May 2017
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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.

  • Australia’s Health 2016, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number AUS 199 (2016). Every two years the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiles a national report card on the health of Australians. A comprehensive range of health metrics are reported, including population statistics on bodyweight (e.g. underweight, normal, overweight and obese) and compliance with physical activity guidelines. In 2014-15 just over one-quarter of Australian children aged 5 to 14 years were classified as overweight (19%) or obese (7%). Slightly less than one-quarter (23%) of children did not meet the recommended national physical activity guidelines. Among young adults, age 18 to 24, the rate of overweight persons increased to 22% and obese to 15%. Also, 52% of young adults did not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.

Key Messages 

1

Childhood obesity is linked to increased risk of adverse long-term health outcomes.

2

Australia has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity among developed countries.

3

The short and long-term impacts of childhood obesity have significant economic implications.

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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