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Alarming childhood obesity stats: 1 in 5 pre-schoolers fat

A new study presented at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' annual scientific meeting in Cairns says that 1 in 5 Australian pre-school children are fat.// This happens to be the first national snapshot of pre-school children's weight.

He study is part of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children with almost 5,000 four to five year olds and another 5,000 babies from every state and territory. These kids are being studied for over eight years as part of the The results which were alarming are that 15.2 per cent of the pre-schoolers were overweight and another 5.5 per cent obese.

According to paediatrician Melissa Wake, of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, "Overweight and obesity was high in all groups but the children most likely to be overweight or obese were socially disadvantaged and of a lower socio-economic status Most socially-disadvantaged pre-schoolers were 47 per cent more likely to be in a higher weight category than those from the most affluent families."

Reasons cited for the state are speaking a language other than English, having an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, being from a low income family, living in a disadvantaged area, having mothers with lower levels of education and parents with less skilled occupations.

But adding that further research is needed she said, "We've known for many years that for adults, especially for women, overweight and obesity is much more prevalent amongst those living in disadvantage. That hasn't been the case for kids until very recently."

"I think a whole range of things are more difficult for people in disadvantaged areas. Access to places where it's nice to be outdoors is less freely available in poorer areas. And then there's the role of stress, the psychosocial stresses that come with disadvantage. Certainly in adults there's clear evidence of links between stress and the development of obesity, especially abdominal obe sity, and maybe that's started to be felt on the kids as well."

Therefore we need to wake up and expose children to outdoor sports more than computer games to keep them fit.

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