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Some Ideas To Fight Global Childhood Obesity

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:18pm

I came across the following heading:

"Australia offers some ideas to fight globesity in kids."

"Globesity? What does this mean?" I have not seen this word before so naturally I looked up dictionary for answer but in vain. Then, I "googled" and straightaway I got my answer:

"Globesity" is a recent WHO (World Health Organization) term for the global obesity epidemic.

The recent Educating For Health Conference, organised by the Singapore Ministry of Education, provided an opportunity for educationists in the region to look for ideas to beat obesity in children. Australian officials suggested some ways that their government had used to fight obesity in kids, and here are their solutions:

Firstly, school children were asked to participate in compulsory weekly physical education lessons lasting for 2 hours.

Secondly, an active government-funded programme was launched to immerse children in sports or activities after school.

Thirdly, healthy menus were created in school tuckshops.

Fourthly, multimillion-dollar advertising and education campaign targeted at children and their parents were funded.

Nevertheless, they also stressed that effort from government alone is not sufficient to combat childhood obesity successfully. The campaign should also include contribution from individuals, families, and the industries.

In Australia, fast-food giant McDonald's, for instance, had responded to offer more healthy food in its outlets in 18 months by stating the nutritional information on healthier food options. In addition, the chain cut back on advertising during children's television programmes by 40 per cent.

Being the world's fourth fattest nation, lagging behind United States, Britain, and Mexico, Australia acted accordingly to fight obesity among its young. It is known that 3 million people are overweight or obese in Australia: 67 percent are men and 57 percent are women; 1 in 5 children is overweight and 1 in 10 is obese.

The Australian federal, state and territory governments have in fact jointly set up a sum of A$500 million to launch more community-based healthy lifestyle initiatives.

You may be wondering why Australian government is willing to spend such a huge amount of money for such campaign? This is because each year, obesity costs Australia A$3.7 billion in direct costs and A$21 billion in indirect and lost-productivity costs. Overweight or obesity could lead to many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.

Keeping to a healthy diet and regular exercise are the keys to fight obesity, but this is indeed a very challenging task, judging from the effort and amount of money governments need to offer to their target audiences.

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