Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Children’s health and wellbeing on the agenda

 Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today welcomed participants to the National Health and Wellbeing seminar in Sydney.

“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.

“Our best defence is educating children and their parents of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the dangers obesity has on health such as heart disease and type two diabetes. We all have a role to play in making sure these disturbing figures and side effects don’t become reality.

“The Australian Government has committed $116 million to the Building a Healthy, Active Australia initiative, which includes four elements:

  • Active After-School Communities
  • Active School Curriculum
  • Healthy School Communities
  • Healthy Eating and Regular Physical Activity – Information for Australian Families

“I am also currently persuading state and territory governments to come on board with Australia’s first National Agenda for Early Childhood. The Agenda is a framework which aims to give children under five years old the best possible start in life by covering a range of family, parenting and childhood issues.

“The Government firmly believes that parents have responsibility for their children’s exercise and eating habits and getting children off the Playstation and into the playground,” Mr Anthony said.