Overweight children and child obesity are two of the most dangerous health problems facing families today.
Just like child obesity in America and child obesity worldwide, child obesity in Australia has increased greatly in the past few years.
It is up to every parent and guardian to take positive action to help overweight children to lose weight before they become obese.
We know that overweight “runs in families,” and this is probably due to the passing down of eating and exercise habits from parents to children. A child who has one obese parent is three times more likely to be obese as an adult, while a child with two obese parents is ten times more likely to be obese later in life.
Robin Drucker, M.D., of Palo Alto Medical Foundation- Pediatrics, said in a newsletter in 2004 –‘What has changed in our society in the past few decades to cause such a rise in obesity? First, families spend less time eating meals together. This absence of family meals correlates to lower fruit and vegetable consumption as well as an increased tendency to eat fried food and drink carbonated beverages.’
It is obvious that we need to start focusing on changing the habits of our young people. We know that children learn many of their habits at home. This points to the fact that families must change together.
A research paper on obesity, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, on May 7, 2007 reports that obese children are more than likely to grow into obese adults. It’s the first time that national figures have been available. The study by the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart followed up 4,500 young adults who took part in a nationwide health and fitness study in 1985. Associate Professor Alison Venn is the author of the research paper. What she found was that boys who were obese in 1985 were five times more likely to be obese as adults than healthy weight boys. And obese girls were nine times more likely to be obese as adults than healthy weight girls.
It is not known exactly how many Australian children are obese today What is known is that child obesity is more common now than it was in 1985 when 1.5 per cent of Australian children were obese. These figures had tripled by 1995 and are still growing.
Obesity in children in Australia is increasing at an alarming rate.
Some current statistics about child obesity in Australia
According to the Australian government:
An estimated 1.5 million people under the age 18 are considered overweight or obese.
This means about 20-25% of Australian children are overweight or obese.
The proportion of overweight or obese children in Australian is increasing at an accelerating rate. This pattern, showing up since the 1980’s, is similar internationally
You only have to look around you at any group of children, on their way into or from school, in the shopping malls or in any other public place, to realise that overweight children are now common.
It’s absolutely essential that we educate our children better on the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, and the health dangers that come as a consequence of poor eating habits. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, fatty deposits in the liver, and type 2 diabetes are all common findings in overweight children.
This education must start at home. It is up to you to start instilling good eating and exercising habits in your family at an early age to ensure they do not become overweight children or victims of child obesity. They will thank you for the rest of their lives.