The number of clinically overweight children aged under 10 being seen by a Tauranga dietitian has increased fourfold in two years.
As childhood obesity in New Zealand continues to rise, Rachel Scrivin, of FoodFX in Tauranga, says she has seen the evidence first hand.
"A couple of years ago I was seeing five a year. Now that number would be up to about 20,'' said the accredited sports dietitian.
"It's a massive trend which is a real shame.
"If you look at the statistics, one in five children [is] overweight. That's huge and it's on the increase.
"I would say 80 per cent of that is about what they are eating.
"Children are eating too many inappropriate, processed, packaged foods - which are high in fat, salt and sugar - and less fresh food. These foods are also less filling so they eat more of them.
"Their diets have moved away from the simple meat, veges, fruit and bread.''
Mrs Scrivin said parents had to take responsibility.
"It does require effort from the parents and the amount of effort they're prepared to put in reflects back on their children. Parents have a moral responsibility to make sure they are nourished properly.''
She said schools also had a role to play in monitoring what pupils were eating. Children regularly presenting with inadequate or inappropriate meals should have notes sent home re-emphasising the health message.
Exercise was fundamental to tackling the problem, said Mrs Scrivin. "The Ministry of Health recommends one hour of exercise a day but there are plenty that don't do that. And we're not just talking about kicking a ball about. It should be running around, exercise which makes you breathe hard.''
Exercise need not be expensive, she said. "People will tell you it's expensive but it doesn't have to cost much, or anything. You can go for a run on the beach or in the park. Get a dog - they need exercising every day.''
Mrs Scrivin's comments come as researchers from the University of Auckland announced study results showing excessive weight and obesity in New Zealand costs the country between $722 million and $849 million a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Ministry of Health statistics state one in five children, aged 2 to 14, in New Zealand is overweight (20.9 per cent). A further one in 12 is obese (8.3 per cent) and the health of three in 10 children (29.2 per cent) is at risk because of excessive weight.
New Zealand was ranked 29th of 30 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2009 report Doing Better for Children for child health and safety.
Joe Bourne, who works as a GP liaison for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, said obesity in children was having serious consequences.
"The most significant change I am noticing is the increasing numbers of teenagers presenting with Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was previously known as maturity onset diabetes but the age at onset is coming down.
"Type 2 diabetes has multiple risk factors, including family history and ethnicity, but is also associated with obesity. Type 2 diabetes that develops in young people can be particularly challenging to manage and as such there is an increased risk of complications such as kidney and eye damage.''
The organisers of last week's The Big New Zealand Play Hour further revealed children's activity levels had fallen by a third in less than a century.
Childhood Obesity In New Zealand Essay
Childhood obesity is a growing problem not only in New Zealand but worldwide. This is due to many factors and has many effects on society. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. BMI is a measure of your weight divided by your height, the normal range is considered to be from 18 to 25 and over 30 is said to be obese. BMI became an international standard for obesity measurement in the 1980s (S.Wilson, 2000). Obesity is not just a modern day problem, Ancient Egyptians are said to consider obesity as a disease, having been drawn in a wall of depicted illnesses. Perhaps the most famous and earliest evidence of obesity is the Venus figurines, statuettes of an obese female torso that probably had a major role in rituals. Ancient China has also been aware of obesity and the dangers that come with it. They have always been a believer of prevention as a key to longevity (L.Dobbins, Dec 2007). Obesity is considered to be a problem because it is a risk factor for many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. The New Zealand health strategy has two objectives that relate directly to obesity, to improve nutrition and to increase physical activity (Reuters, Feb. 15 2008). Experts and the media are feeding us with information on this ‘,obesity epidemic’, but is there actually a problem? An epidemic is the occurrence of more cases of a disease than would be expected in a community or region during a given time period. According to New Zealand Herald 95% of parents considered the number of overweight and obese children to be a significant problem. In other words there is sufficient evidence to say we do have an obesity epidemic on our hands.
Our children are among the fattest in the world. The national children’,s nutrition survey found that nearly one third of New Zealand’,s children are overweight or obese which equates to 21% overweight and 10% obese. Pacific Island children are the heaviest with over 60% either overweight or obese. This problem is not just in one part of the country but all over, A study in Auckland children aged between 5-11 years found that 14% were obese, One in four Pacific Island children were obese, making then one of the fattest groups in the world. A 2001 study in Christchurch showed that children from 10-14 years had increased in weight from 1991 to 2000. Also in Dunedin nearly 25% of teenagers are overweight or obese. (FOE, 2005).Being overweight increases the risk of premature illness and sometimes death. Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly common in teenagers who have been obese for a few years. People who suffer from type 2 diabetes may develop kidney failure, loss of vision and hip and joint problems. The link between type 2 diabetes and obesity is so strong, the term "diabesity" has been coined. Other research has found that being fat is a risk factor in children falling over and breaking weak...
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