Childhood obesity warrants special attention because the damage caused by being overweight is far greater to a child’s body than it is to a person who gained weight as an adult. The stress to internal organs is extensive and sometimes irreversible.
Being overweight or obese also increases the risk for several chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and some cancers.
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.
Children are getting less aerobic exercise.
The amount of aerobic fitness is decreasing about .4% a year.
In the last decade obesity levels in the population doubled.
While obesity doubled, being overweight increased 60-70%. This shows signs not just of increasing, but accelerating.
If weight gain continues the path it is following, by the year 2020, 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.
50% of obese adolescents continue to be obese as adults.
Studies show that relative body weight is most often carried from childhood to adulthood. Once a child or adolescent is obese or overweight, they are not likely to reduce it as an adult.
Obesity in a child or adult is defined as a condition where excess fat has accumulated to the point that it can impair health.
A primary cause of obesity is an energy imbalance.
An intake of high energy foods, combined with a low level of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle is a cause of this energy imbalance.
One study estimates that for every 1% increase in the proportion of physically active people, nearly 122 lives can be saved that would have been lost to coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. All of these diseases have links to obesity.
It is estimated that the cost of obesity in Australia is more than $1.5 Billion per annum.
Obesity as a child is linked to an increase in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in an adult regardless of the adult weight. Being overweight as a child brings and an increase for heart related diseases like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
Child obesity is also related to many medical conditions like respiratory disorders, orthopedic problems, release of growth hormone, arthritis, and gastric problems.