Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rising Teenage Obesity is a Disease Time Bomb

The release today of the National Secondary Students' Diet and Activity survey 2009-10 commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation has revealed a troubling trend of rising teenage obesity. The survey took in 12,000 teenagers across almost 240 schools and found one quarter of young Australians are overweight and obese, 85 per cent don't do enough exercise and three quarters aren't eating enough vegetables. Just 14 per cent of the students were found to meet both the recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruit. The data also showed a clear trend of diet becoming poorer and problems with weight increasing as a young person lived in socially disadvantaged areas.

Health experts are warning that this current generation of teenagers could be the first to experience a decrease in life expectancy. These results raise serious issues and represent a rising threat to the health system. Cancer Council Australia chief executive Professor Ian Olver has justifiably warned “that this is a wake-up call for Australians. As obese kids move into adulthood, the heightened risk of chronic diseases like cancer means previous gains in life expectancy may be reversed. We may see today's teenagers die at a younger age than their parents' generation for the first time in history.”

Everyone – parents, schools, media, food and beverage companies, supermarkets, governments – has a responsibility to improve this grim picture.

The House of Representatives Health Committee recommended in 2009 that “should self-regulation not result in a decrease in…advertisements directed at children, the committee supports the Federal Government considering more stringent regulations.” We also need to support the affordability of fresh food – rising due to increasing demand, from a growing population, and declining production, due, amongst other factors, to good horticultural land being paved over for roads and spreading suburbs, is not the right way to go.

1 comment:

  1. Research also shows alarming results that a lot of teenagers also consider bariatric bypass surgery as an option to loss weight. Change in lifestyle can also help a lot in avoiding obesity and this should start at home.