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  • Writer's pictureLauren McDougall

Let's talk about childhood obesity

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Here are some not so fun facts.

Children and young people in Australia are failing to meet the physical activity guidelines- big time! In 2016, only 21-40% of 5-17 year olds were meeting the recommendations.

So, what does that mean?

Well it’s a huge health concern.

The rate of childhood obesity has never been higher, and with obesity comes a multitude of other health risks. Doctors are now starting to see children and adolescents with health problems they, not too long ago, only saw in adults. Things such as high blood pressure, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, and coronary artery disease (not cool).

Unfortunately, obese children and young people are 2-3 times higher risk of high blood pressure and reduced insulin sensitivity (a stepping stone to type 2 diabetes, putting them at increased risk of developing diabetes).

Obesity is also linked with lipid abnormalities, specifically triglycerides (AKA a bad fat in your blood), which is doing no favours for your child’s health. These triglycerides can start the inflammatory process within the body (such as in the blood vessels), which lead to conditions such as high blood pressure as they get older. Sound scary? Well it kind of is.

A child can go through their entire childhood obese without having any health problems, however, this doesn’t mean they’re off the hook as an adult. Many of the chronic conditions faced by our adult population start to develop when we are young, meaning that obese children are also more likely to face a wide array of chronic health conditions when they’re adults. They’re also more likely to be obese adults, which means all the nasty stuff keeps happening.


The good news is we can get on top of it. Most of the chronic health conditions we face in Australia today can be significantly reduced with healthy lifestyle change.

You may read the guidelines and think that’s not reasonable for everyone, and that is the case for some populations - the guidelines are general!

The concept of 'doing some physical activity is better than none' cannot be stressed enough.

Read and repeat:

Doing some physical activity is better than none

Doing some physical activity is better than none

Doing some physical activity is better than none

Exercise is important for EVERYONE, but it’s also important to exercise RIGHT for you.

For those with a disability, or chronic health condition (obesity included!), specific guidance from an Exercise Physiologist may be required to assist with safe, and appropriate, engagement with physical activity.

Child Obesity and paediatric physiotherapy

What guidelines are we failing to meet?

· 5–17 year olds should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

· on at least three days per week, children should engage in activities that strengthen muscles and bones.

· Children 5-17 years should minimise time being sedentary and break up sitting time as much as possible, and limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day


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