Vic­to­rian chil­dren top the scales

Shepparton News - Country News - - COUNTRY LIFE -

Vic­to­rian chil­dren are the fat­test in the coun­try, putting them at higher risk of obe­sity-re­lated can­cers, ex­perts say.

Al­most one in three Vic­to­rian chil­dren, or 216 600, are now over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to lat­est Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare fig­ures.

And child­hood obe­sity rates are climb­ing higher in Vic­to­ria than in any other state, prompt­ing calls from the Cancer Coun­cil Vic­to­ria for a state strat­egy to re­verse the trend.

‘‘If obe­sity rates con­tinue to rise, we could be re­sign­ing our chil­dren to a life­time of obe­sity-re­lated ill­nesses in­clud­ing type 2 di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and 13 types of cancer,’’ the coun­cil’s Craig Sin­clair said.

The num­ber of Vic­to­rian chil­dren who are over­weight and obese jumped from 23 per cent in 2011 to 30 per cent in 2014, above the na­tional av­er­age of 26 per cent.

Mr Sin­clair said these chil­dren were much more likely to re­main in these cat­e­gories as teenagers and adults, po­ten­tially re­sign­ing them to a life­time of obe­sity-re­lated ill­nesses and cancer.

‘‘Ac­cord­ing to these new fig­ures, child­hood obe­sity rates are ac­tu­ally go­ing down in some other parts of the coun­try,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s vi­tal that Vic­to­ria does more to re­verse this dev­as­tat­ing trend.’’

The Cancer Coun­cil wants the Vic­to­rian Government to de­velop a strat­egy that in­cludes pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, more ac­cess to nu­tri­tious foods and re­mov­ing sug­ar­sweet­ened drinks from state owned, man­aged or funded fa­cil­i­ties.

The fig­ures demon­strate the un­healthy en­vi­ron­ment chil­dren are ex­posed to daily, in­clud­ing junk food ads, ac­cord­ing to the Obe­sity Pol­icy Coali­tion’s Jane Martin.

‘‘It’s time for a state strat­egy to ad­dress the health im­pacts obe­sity is hav­ing on Vic­to­ria, and a fo­cus on tack­ling child­hood obe­sity must be a pri­or­ity,’’ she said.

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