NEW data shows one in three Victorian children are overweight or obese with the Cancer Council describing the increase as verging on a human rights issue.
The statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that childhood rates of overweight and obesity in Victoria jumped from 23 per cent in 2011 to 30 per cent in 2014, higher than any other state or territory in Australia, and above the national average of 26 per cent.
Cancer Council Victoria dietitian and Live Lighter Campaign Manager Alice Bastable said childhood obesity was verging on a human rights issue because it was out of the child’s control.
“The child really doesn’t have any say yet by the time they reach adolescents the odds are against them,” she said.
“We’ve got to make it easy for parents to make the healthy choice and at the moment it’s far from easy.
“It’s about what they’re exposed to when they first wake up, so what’s on TV in between the cartoons which is junk food advertising. (it’s) what’s on the kitchen table which is a cereal box sugar laden with a sporting celebrity or a cartoon character… and what they’re exposed to in terms of broader advertising, marketing and things like that.”
Ms Bastable said the increase in obesity of Victorian children was concerning given that children who were above a healthy weight range were likely to stay above a healthy weight range into adolescents and throughout adulthood.
“It’s the most significant jump of any state or territory, and we’re currently the highest state or territory in terms the obesity rates by quite a few percentages,” she said.
“Action really needs to be taken because preventing this before they reach adulthood is one of the best things you can do for obesity.”
Ms Bastable said for parents it was recommended not to “alert or notify” their child about their weight but focus on providing a healthy environment for the child.