3 August 2003
Children of less than 10 years of age who have obese parents have more than double the risk of becoming overweight adults compared with children whose parents are of average weight, Senator Kay Patterson, Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, said this week.
Speaking at a meeting of all Australian health ministers in Perth, Senator Patterson was reporting on progress towards national action to tackle the increasing problem of overweight and obesity in the Australian community.
‘Obesity develops over time and once it has developed it is difficult to treat,’ Senator Patterson said.
Senator Patterson also outlined the work of the National Obesity Taskforce, which was established by the Australian health ministers conference in November 2002 in response to mounting evidence of an obesity crisis in Australia. It had identified children and families as key starting points to tackle the overweight and obesity epidemic.
Senator Patterson said, ‘The taskforce has found that the most long-term consequence of obesity in childhood is its persistence into adulthood, and its contribution to the early onset of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
‘Experiences, environments and health status early in life can influence the way people age and set the course of lifestyle behaviours and disease patterns in later life.
‘Obese children have a 25 to 50 per cent chance of progression to adult obesity and this may be as high as 78 per cent in older obese adolescents. The prevention of weight gain, beginning in childhood, offers the most effective means of controlling obesity and chronic disease,’ said Senator Patterson.
The initial focus of the Taskforce's work is on children and families, specifically on increasing levels of physical activity and supporting healthy eating patterns. It is due to give its final report to health ministers in November 2003.
Last Reviewed: 04 August 2003