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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Australian children heading towards diabetes

One in five Australian children are heading towards contracting diabetes Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said today.

“The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released it’s Diabetes: Australian Facts 2002 report to mark today’s World Diabetes Day. The report shows that overweight or obese people are at particular risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.

“Childhood obesity has tripled over the last ten years and according to a recent survey, Australia has the second highest rate of obesity in the world. While most children aged
2-14 years are of an acceptable weight, 18 per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls are overweight or obese.

“Also, recent research shows that around 40 per cent of Australian children are not involved in organised sport and 95 per cent of Australian children spend 20 hours or more per week watching television, playing computer games or surfing the internet.

“The threat of contracting diabetes should not be taken lightly. Diabetes is a serious disease and is the sixth highest cause of death in Australia. People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease. If undetected or poorly controlled, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and stroke.

“Lifestyle factors such as excess weight, inactivity, high blood pressure and poor diet are major risk factors for its development.

“We know that many children are filling up on high fat, high sugar food and drinks. They are also spending more time in front of the television than ever before and also spending great amounts of time playing on the computer. Our children need to spend less time in front of the Playstation and more time in the playground.

“It is totally unacceptable that so many of our children are at risk of contracting diabetes. Parents have a responsibility to look after their children’s health and ensure their children are eating sensibly and getting enough exercise.

“In the vast majority of cases, Type 2 diabetes can be avoided. To ensure this, I urge all parents to think about the future of their children’s health and look closely at the food their children eat and amount of exercise they do,” Mr Anthony said