New figures released today show the need for urgent action on childhood obesity.
Research by the NSW Health Department shows that more than one in five kids in New South Wales are overweight or obese. This crisis is driven by physical inactivity and poor nutrition, with just 30 per cent of 5-15 year olds in NSW getting enough exercise, and only one in 20 kids eating enough vegetables.
These figures are all the more tragic because children are likely to remain overweight or obese into adulthood. 80 per cent of obese kids go on to become obese adults, causing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
National leadership and investment are needed to help kids and families stay healthy. That’s why Labor committed $300 million to build healthy communities and prevent chronic disease during the recent election campaign.
Labor’s package included $90 million for Australia’s first National Physical Activity Strategy, to get kids and all Australians moving more. Labor also committed $10 million to improve nutrition – including by expanding the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program in schools. Full details of Labor’s plan are available here.
In contrast, in its first Budget the Abbott-Turnbull Government ripped almost $370 million out of preventive health. This forced an end to important programs that the last Labor Government had introduced to tackle obesity, like physical activity and healthy eating programs in schools, early childhood centres and preschools.
In what he calls his year of “great achievement” as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has not reinvested a single dollar in tackling childhood obesity.
Experts like Sydney University Professor Louise Baur say this makes it impossible for states to combat the crisis:
“If we look at the upstream issues, many are beyond the capacity of the health system alone and many of them are beyond the capacity of the state government to develop alone. We have clearly seen a disinvestment in preventative health.”
It is past time for Australia to reinvest in tackling childhood obesity, through action on physical activity and nutrition.
SATURDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2016