Overweight/obesity during childhood is a major public health issue with more than 200,000 Australian children between 2-18 years now obese (Booth et al, 2003). It has significant health implications across the life span. This Policy brief reviews the effectiveness of prevention and intervention strategies and highlights the importance of adopting a multi-faceted approach to decrease the prevalence of overweight/obesity in children.
Why is this issue important?
With around 25% of school-aged children (Booth et al, 2006; Booth et al, 2003) and 20% of preschoolers now overweight or obese (Wake et al, 2006), Australian children are heavier and less fit than ever before. Overweight doubled and obesity tripled in prevalence between 1985 and 1997, and continues to rise at a rate of about 1-1.5% per year (Booth et al, 2006; Sanigorski et al, 2007). Though Australian children are in ‘the middle of the pack’ internationally, their rate of rise is among the steepest (Lobstein et al, 2004).