Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Big steps towards a Healthy, Active Australia

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony welcomed today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a $116 million package over four years to address the growing incidence of childhood overweight and obesity.

“The Building a Healthy, Active Australia package will deliver real help to children and families at risk of overweight or obesity. The range of measures in the package address the most important factors that contribute to this problem – lack of exercise and poor diet.

“Around 1.5 million Australian children are now overweight or obese. It is of great concern that studies show overweight or obese children are more likely to stay obese as adolescents than slimmer children.

“There is also an increase in the health risks not normally associated with youth. Conditions such as type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar were almost unheard of in young people until recent years.

“Amazingly, some Australian children spend a full working week 35 hours in front of a television or computer. The statistics show that children who watch more than 10 hours of television a week are more likely to be overweight.

“Poor diet is the other half of the equation contributing to this problem. There is no doubt that families are time poor and often turn to foods of convenience that are often high in sugar and fat.

“The $116 million Building a Healthy, Active Australia package announced today will go a long way to tackle these problems.

“Many State government have been taking sport out of the primary and junior high school curriculum over recent years. The Active After-School Communities and Active School Curriculum initiatives will ensure our children are exercising more.

“The Healthy School Communities initiative will help schools and children make health food choices while children are at school and not in their parents direct care. I am also pleased that Australian families will receive practical help and information on healthy eating and exercise.

“This package is more comprehensive and effective than Labor’s $25 million proposed policy. The Government firmly believes that parents have responsibility for their children’s exercise and eating habits. These initiatives clearly build on these important principles,” Mr Anthony said.