Children's weight is a big problem

Associate professor Jack Chen said the number of overweight young Australian's is on the rise.
Associate professor Jack Chen said the number of overweight young Australian's is on the rise.

THE number of overweight young Australians is on the rise.

That's the basic finding of a recent study by the Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research.

Associate professor Jack Chen was part of the national childhood-obesity study. He said the results showed a worrying trend towards childhood obesity.

"Overweight and obese children are a huge health concern," he said.

"Between the ages of 2 and 16 around 25 per cent of children are overweight or obese.

"The study found in children aged between 4 and 10 the rates of obesity had increased from 21 to 28 per cent.

"There was a big increase in obesity rates in children aged between 6 and 8 while children between 4 and six were stable."

Dr Chen said the trend was common among children from indigenous or non-English-speaking backgrounds.

"Children from non-English-speaking backgrounds had a high rate of obesity compared to children from English-speaking backgrounds," he said.

"Kids from Pacific Islander, Arabic or Middle Eastern and non-English-speaking backgrounds were more likely to be overweight or obese. Indigenous children in the age group of 4 to 10 had the highest rates of being overweight or obese, with girls having a higher rate than boys."

Dr Chen said there were many factors likely to contribute to rising levels of childhood obesity. He said there was a need for more education and early intervention.

"A lot of children are already overweight or obese and a lot of parents think their children's weight is all right," he said.

"Contributing factors to these rates can include changes in the family environment, socio-economic environment reasons, cultural reasons, less physical activity in children, watching more television and using more technology.

"There's a great urgency to find out what we should do."