Facts about childhood overweight and obesity
One in four Australian children are overweight or obese and this can lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is also a 25-50% chance of childhood obesity leading to adult obesity, so preventative action during childhood is really important.
Weight gain occurs when the energy intake from food and drinks exceeds energy expenditure from physical activity and other metabolic processes. Fortunately, many of the causes of overweight and obese children can be changed, such as:
- Physical activity
- Active travel
Does your family lead a healthy lifestyle?
1. Get active each day: Kids and teens should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including vigorous activities that make them 'huff and puff'.
2. Chose water as a drink: Drinking water is the best way to quench your thirst. Children and teenagers who regularly drink soft drinks and other sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight.
3. Eat more fruit and vegies: Everyone should be eating 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegies each day. This reduces the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and being overweight or obese. 56% of primary and 80% of secondary school students do not eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
4. Turn off the TV or computer and get active: Australian guidelines recommend that kids and teens spend no more than 2 hours each day on small screen entertainment. Children who watch TV for more than 2 hours every day are more likely to have an unhealthy diet, less likely to eat fruit and less likely to be physically active.
5. Eat fewer snacks and select healthier alternatives: Healthy snacks in between main meals help kids and teens meet their daily nutritional needs. Over a quarter of young people in NSW eat confectionary at least 4 times per week.
The Better Health Program is highly effective in supporting healthy lifestyle changes for children and their families. The program has been running across Australia since 2007, with more than 5,000 families participating. The program improves:
- Sporting skills and fitness
- Teamwork and communication
- Eating habits
- Concentration, mood and behaviour
- Overall health
Better Health Program produces significant results. On average children achieve:
- A drop in waist circumference of 1.7cm
- An increase of 3.6 hours per week in time spent being physically active
- A decrease of 5.5 inactive hours per week
- A significant decrease in body mass index (0.7kg/m² )
Calculate your child's BMI using our BMI Calculator