Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. The NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) conducted research in 2010 and found that 22.8% of children between 5-17 years of age were classified as overweight or obese (Health NSW, 2012).
Studies have shown a dramatic rise in the number of obese children in the last few decades and it has been shown that between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates doubled among children and tripled among teens.
Obesity means having too much body fat. A child is obese if their weight is more than 20% higher than the ideal weight for a boy or girl of their age and height (ABS, 2009). Childhood obesity is increasing in first world countries due to unhealthy food choices, lack of physical activity, family eating habits and changing society.
It is evident that as our society has changed in the past 20 years, childhood obesity has increased. As both parents are now spending more time in paid employment this results in them not having enough time to cook healthy and nutritious meals for their children. Instead food is being prepared away from the home and take-away foods are being eaten instead as they are an easier and more convenient option.
Also the overall cost of food has gone down and with the number of two-income families increasing, families now have money they never had 20 years ago allowing them to spend more money on junk food such as chips, lollies, ice-creams and frozen foods.
The role of physical education in the school curriculum has reduced and more subjects such as information technology, art and drama being introduced resulting in children and adolescents spending less time doing physical activity. From 2004 to 2010 there was a significant decline in physical activity among students in Years 6, 8 and 10. This is a reversal of the gains observed between 1997 and 2000.
Also 20 years or so ago the use of cars was not as popular as they were expensive...
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