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Australian Law and Politics

Child Obesity Checks Should Start From Birth, Say Experts


Children should be weighed and monitored for obesity from birth to stop them becoming unhealthy, fat adults, according to researchers. The experts argue the Federal Government’s Healthy Kids Check plan to weigh all children from the age of four from next year is leaving it too late, given one in five children are already overweight by the age of three.

Their advice comes as a senior Adelaide heart specialist predicted the nation would fail to cut obesity levels over the next 20 years unless it developed new strategies to tackle the “complex” epidemic. Dr Anthea Magarey, a dietician with the Childhood Obesity Research Group at Flinders University, and colleague Rebecca Perry, want the Federal Government to consider an ongoing monitoring system – starting from birth – of children’s weight, diet and activity.

While sometimes early weight gain may be “puppy fat” which disappears with a growth spurt, they say it can often instead be the start of an ongoing weight problem linked to poor eating habits. “If you’re monitoring a child you can identify where their weight is increasing disproportionate to their height,” Dr Magarey said.

“They may not be overweight or obese yet, but it can ring a few bells and then we can say ok, maybe we should be looking at what this child is eating and what their activity levels are.”

Parents whose children were putting on excessive weight for their age and height could then receive advice about how to properly feed them.

The plan comes as advertising companies have rejected a proposal to ban junk food advertising to children, arguing the term “junk food” is “derogatory” and that all food is healthy. The Australian Association of National Advertisers has also tried to downplay the obesity epidemic, citing a Commonwealth study this year that showed “no appreciable change in childhood obesity levels since 1995”.

“The claimed ‘epidemic’ has been exposed as a deliberate attempt at misinformation of the Australian public and its politicians,” it says in comments made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The association argued that it would be “unreasonable and unjust” to place impositions on television advertising.

“There is overwhelming evidence that food and beverages advertising to children is neither the primary nor a significant contributor to childhood obesity.”

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Child Obesity Checks Should Start From Birth, Say Experts

  1. The parents need to be retrained on how to feed themselves and their children. Too many carb laden meals and not enough protein… too many hours playing video games and watching TV and not enough, and in some cases NO, exercise.
    When I was a kid… we played outside… all day on the weekends and until dark after school. We watched for the porch light to come on… that was the signal that dinner was ready… good, wholesome dinners… not the crap parents are feeding their kids now.

    Posted by flamidwyfe | February 23, 2012, 15:02
    • Unfortunately, it seems some parents find it easier to sit the kids in front of the TV or internet, and buy takeaways. To be fair, socioeconomic factors for today’s parents are probably more difficult, with the higher cost of living, increases in families where both parents are working and less time for famiy. many people find it hard to juggle these constant changes, and resist retraining at the largely unfounded fear of looking like “failures.”

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 23, 2012, 15:29
  2. I believe the fault needs to lay on the parents shoulders. They are the ones that allow their children to eat what they eat, how much they eat, and how much they get them out to exercise. All of that goes hand in hand. Even if a child is out running around and playing, they still need to monitor what the children’s intake is, as in what and how much.

    There is a child that lives behind me, he is out running and playing most days, but he is a very huge kid. He is about 8 years old and I believe he weighs as much as an adult male. Which is really sad. The parents just let them eat what he wants and how much he wants. Soda’s, chips and just all other kinds of junk food.

    If the parents did not pay for the food that is not healthy, and allow them to eat it, and also practiced good eating habits themselves, it would not come out to this. It’s sad when they are so young and already obese.

    I had been watching a program here in the USA, on TLC channel that ended tonight called “My 600lb life”. These adults weighing more than 600, and even close to 900 lbs. It’s scary, wrong, and even though they have begged for help, there is no help for them. Only one Dr would do surgery on them to allow them to lose weight.

    Posted by savageindian | February 23, 2012, 15:17
    • That’s really sad. America doesn’t want it’s people to be healthy… that would screw up the multi-gazillion dollar medical field… people wouldn’t need to go to the doctor if they were, God forbid, healthy!

      Posted by flamidwyfe | February 23, 2012, 15:23
    • Sometimes, it is the parents, but again, it is often lack of knowledge about diet, and denial that there is a problem. I recall one occasion visiting two colleagues, both teachers, and both grossly overweight. So, too, were the two children. Quite unexpectedly, the mother stated that the kids and adults weren’t obese, and that their diet was well-balanced; it was that the whole family had a “genetic disorder.”

      I guess it must have been a serious genetic disorder, because the two pet dogs being fed under the table were also suffering from it, as well as the cat 🙂

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 23, 2012, 15:35
      • That is funny, Craig… yeah, my genetic magically healed once I started getting control of what I was eating! It’s quite amazing, really.

        Posted by flamidwyfe | February 23, 2012, 15:38

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