Chil­dren’s health a weighty mat­ter

GOOD ROLE MOD­ELS NEEDED AT HOME

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jes­sica War­riner

AL­MOST one in three chil­dren in the Bel­mont area are over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to new es­ti­mates from the Aus­tralian Health Pol­icy Col­lab­o­ra­tion.

The study used mod­elled es­ti­mates to put 29.3 per cent of chil­dren aged 2 to 17 in Bel­mont, As­cot, River­vale and Kew­dale at over­weight or obese lev­els.

One in four (25.8 per cent) chil­dren across Aus­tralia also fall into the over­weight or obese cat­e­gory.

Curtin Uni­ver­sity lec­turer Dr Kyla Rin­grose from the Depart­ment of Nu­tri­tion, Di­etet­ics and Food Tech­nol­ogy said over­weight or obese chil­dren faced sev­eral is­sues.

“Car­ry­ing ex­ces­sive weight as a child or an adult in­creases your risk of many health prob­lems, such as di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and cancer. For kids, this might hap­pen later in life, but there are also im­me­di­ate ef­fects to be aware of,” Dr Rin­grose said.

“Kids who are over­weight are of­ten bul­lied about their weight, or feel self-con­scious about how they look. This can af­fect their over­all self-es­teem and even make them want to stop par­tic­i­pat­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties with other chil­dren, which might make it even harder for them to achieve a healthy weight.”

Heart Foun­da­tion WA nu­tri­tion man­ager Emma Groves said the foun­da­tion was con­cerned about the prob­lem fol­low­ing chil­dren into adult­hood.

“If you’re an over­weight child, un­for­tu­nately you’re very likely to be an over­weight adult as well… It’s very hard to re­verse that,” Ms Groves said.

“We live in an en­vi­ron­ment where we’re sur­rounded by re­ally con­ve­nient, cheap, un­healthy foods… it’s eas­ier to find a vend­ing ma­chine than it is to find a drink­ing foun­tain.”

Dr Rin­grose said the best thing par­ents could do to im­prove their child’s health was to im­prove their own health, with kids mir­ror­ing what they see.

“It’s easy to sit all day at work, then sit in front of the screen at night, with­out mak­ing time for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. It’s also easy for us to ac­cess high fat, high sugar con­ve­nience foods that con­trib­ute to weight gain,” she said.

“Peo­ple have to make a con­scious ef­fort to make healthy choices and that can be hard.”

Ms Groves said along with re­duc­ing por­tion size and in­volv­ing fam­i­lies in choos­ing recipes, both adults and chil­dren should take the op­por­tu­nity to move as much as pos­si­ble dur­ing the day.

“Look for ways in which you can move in your nor­mal day – tak­ing the stairs, walk­ing be­tween meet­ings, walk­ing or cy­cling to school, even if it’s just some days,” she said.

“Ex­er­cise doesn’t have to be in one big block – any move­ment is im­por­tant.”

City of Bel­mont chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art Cole said the City’s obe­sity and ex­cess weight fig­ures were on par with na­tional av­er­ages pub­lished in the 2011-12 Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics Health Sur­vey and its leisure, arts and life­style plan had ac­tions re­spond­ing to that data.

These in­clude work­ing with stake­hold­ers to fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­nity-wide phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity pro­grams, sup­port­ing lo­cal sport­ing clubs, and pro­mot­ing com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment.

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