The Size of the Problem

Overweight and obesity in Australian children is fast becoming a serious health issue with 1 in 4 children being considered either overweight or obese.

An overweight or obese child will most likely remain overweight as an adult, which increases the risk of developing chronic diseases and psychological issues. As a result, maintaining a healthy weight as a child will decrease the incidence and severity of these health issues and allow children to enjoy their childhood and adulthood to the fullest (AIHW, 2017).

Who is most at risk?

Studies have shown the following factors to increase the prevalence of childhood obesity:

  • Coming from European and Middle Eastern cultural backgrounds  (Booth et al. 2001)
  • Lower Socioeconomic status (Power & Parsons 2000; Booth et al. 2001; Tennant et al. 2003)
  • Children living in single parent families
  • Children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families (ABS, 1998).

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions, some cancers and mental health conditions (such as low self-esteem and depression). Mortality risk also increases progressively as weight increases.

Article author: Grace Kim, Nutritionist, Bachelor of Health Sciences, U.Q – Published November 2017.