Childhood obesity rates in South Australia decline

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 31st March 2011

The South Australian Health Minister, John Hill, has announced new results from the Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service showing a decline in the percentage of four year-old children in South Australia who are overweight or obese.

In 2003, 20.1 percent of four year-olds were overweight or obese; in 2009 that had fallen to 18.3 percent.

The Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service measures the height and weight of 4-5 year-old children to monitor the weight status of preschool children in South Australia.

“Among both boys and girls, there is clear evidence of a continuing decline in overweight and obesity rates in the past five years,” said Hill. “This is really encouraging news because we know that children who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, which in turn puts them at risk of a range of chronic diseases and puts an additional cost burden on the health system.”

“Of course, we want these figures to improve, particularly because the number of overweight and obese adults is still too high and has continued to rise.

“It’s vital for our citizens’ and our State’s future that people look after their health and that we help them to do this,” said Hill.

The minister said the government had introduced a number of initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles among South Australians and reduce chronic disease.

“The flagship OPAL program, adopted from a French program as the world’s best practice, is directly focussed on healthy eating and more physical activity for children,” said Hill.

“For adults, we have healthy eating and lifestyle campaigns such as Go for 2 and 5 and Measure Up.

“The Rann Government has also banned junk food sales in school canteens, brought in a healthy food and drink choice policy in all healthcare facilities and we’re currently consulting on requiring all major fast food retailers to put kilojoule information on their menu boards.”