News & Media

10 October 2016

Health service calls for urgent action to end childhood obesity

Latrobe Community Health Service has echoed a global call-to-action to reduce childhood obesity rates, citing obesity as one of the most challenging public health problems faced today.

Latrobe Community Health Service has echoed a global call-to-action to reduce childhood obesity rates, citing obesity as one of the most challenging public health problems faced today.

According to the World Obesity Federation, more than 222 million school-aged children worldwide are overweight or obese, and this figure is expected to rise to more than 267 million by 2025.

In conjunction with World Obesity Day on Tuesday, 11 October, Latrobe Community Health Service reminded parents and community members that everyday actions could help reduce rates of childhood obesity.

Adding less or avoiding adding sugar to drinks, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and moving more during the day are actions that can be taken by everyone to be healthier, according to Christina Rush, Manager Primary Prevention at Latrobe Community Health.

“While there are no local statistics about childhood obesity in Latrobe specifically, statewide data tell us that as children grow older, they become less active and are less likely to eat more fruit and vegetables,” said Ms Rush.

In Latrobe, more than 60% of the total population is overweight or obese and more than half do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.

“We know healthy eating habits formed in childhood can influence the types of food chosen in adulthood,” said Ms Rush.

“Being overweight or obese can cause a multitude of health problems, including diabetes, heart problems, and cancer, now and in the future.”

The World Obesity Federation estimated that by 2025, as many as 20 million children with obesity will have high blood pressure and up to 4 million children will have type 2 diabetes.

“Many of these conditions are preventable with the right amounts of food and exercise to meet the needs of growing kids,” said Ms Rush.

“Our health system is overburdened by people with health problems that can be prevented in the first place, or managed before it gets serious.”

Ms Rush said Latrobe Community Health Service run several initiatives to help young children and families form healthy life habits.

This month, more than 1,000 children will walk, cycle or scoot to school in conjunction with Walk to School month, a local event coordinated by the health service.

Latrobe Community Health Service also partnered with Latrobe City Council to introduce healthier food options to Latrobe Leisure centres.

“We run the Achievement Program for Schools in Latrobe, where we work with schools to address and improve health priority areas like healthy eating and oral health, sun protection and physical activity,” said Ms Rush.

For more information about the Achievement Program for Schools and Walk to School month, phone the Health Promotion team at Latrobe Community Health Service on 1800 242 696 or, visit www.walktoschool.vic.gov.au