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Thursday, June 7, 2007

And they keep getting fatter....

I have worked in the area of child and adolescent obesity for just over 4 years. Unfortunately I must say that during this time not much has changed; yes there are more media headlines that scream out headlines to the effect of "Obesity Crisis", "1 in 4 kids fat", and more research is presented that tells health professionals and journalists that the problem is increasing and that describes habits related to obesity in children and adults. But, correct me if I am wrong. I would say that:
1) Many influencial people know that Australian children (and adults) have an obesity problem, and
2) We know what causes it - they move too little and eat too much

So unfortunately, until key and influential people in health, government (both local, state and federal), education, food industry and research come together and help families see the importance of making lifestyle changes, and help them to make them nothing is likely to change.

We need:

1) Large food companies to come to the party and help deliver more child and nutrition friendly processed food products
2) We need trans fats and palm oil to be clearly labelled on ingredient and nutrition panels to help consumers make informed choices
3) We need more research done by actual clinicians who can translate the science of eating and exercising into doable lifestyle recommendations for the average family
4) We need more physical activity in school hours
5) We need rebates for activity programs for children
6) We need GP's, nurses, teachers and paediatricians trained to deal with overweight children each and everyday
7) We need reality TV to talk about health promotion in a contemporary, sexy fashion rather than sensationalising fat families and teenagers
7) We need someone in government to take an interest in this and push it on the long term agenda to local, state and federal government levels

Until at least some of these issues are considered, we could be seeing childhood obesity headlines for some time yet