An estimated 20 to 25% of children and adolescents in Australia are overweight, and a quarter of this group is obese. In certain groups such Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the number of children with obesity appears to be even higher.
Obesity presents numerous problems for children and teenagers. It takes a toll on both physical and psychosocial health. As obese children also tend to be obese in later life, it is important for parents to set the right example for their children from an early age.
Also, being overweight and remaining so increases the chance of developing a range of medical conditions. For example, the rate of type 2 diabetes is continuing to rise in children and adolescents. Other problems occurring at a higher rate in overweight children include sleep apnoea, heat intolerance, breathlessness on exertion, tiredness and flat feet. Being overweight can also make a child more vulnerable to decreased self-esteem and using unhealthy dietary practices to attempt to achieve weight control.
Last reviewed: August 2016