Widening childhood obesity gap leaves communities behind

The data

showed children were more likely to be above a healthy weight if they lived in a low-income community, were from regional and rural areas, had a disability or were from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

The survey found:

  • Children in the lowest socioeconomic areas were more than twice as likely to be obese as those living in the highest socioeconomic areas
  • Obesity rates for Aboriginal children and adolescents increased to 38% in 2018–19, up from 31% in 2012–13
  • More Australian children aged 5–14 were overweight or obese if they had a disability (30%) compared with those with no disability (24%)
  • A higher proportion of children living in inner regional areas (29%) and outer regional and remote areas (27%) were above a healthy weight than children in major cities (23%)

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio called for greater government action to support all Australian children to achieve good health.

Postcode or family income should not dictate the health opportunities of any Australian child,” Dr Demaio said.

“We need to support families to be able to access and afford to feed their kids healthy food, but we know our poorer communities continue to face much greater barriers.

“Fast food and soft drink giants target families already fighting an uphill battle with their cheap, unhealthy products packed with sugar, salt and fat.

“Victorian studies have shown the lowest income postcodes have more than double the number of fast food outlets per person compared to the highest income postcodes. We also know marginalised communities have more more unhealthy food marketing around schools and on public transport.

“This data suggests kids from poorer communities are at higher risk of preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, than any generation before them.

“We need governments to step up and protect Australian children from harmful food and drink companies who make their profits at the expense of our kids’ health.

“We want to see our governments set higher standards for how harmful products, like sugary drinks and fast food, are marketed and sold to kids.”

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