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Tackling childhood obesity

Published 14th July, 2017

Reduce overweight and obesity rates of children by five percentage points by 2025

Why is this important to the people of NSW?

Children who are above a healthy weight can have psychological, social and health issues. Immediate health problems can include asthma, bone and joint complications, sleep disturbance, with earlier onset of diabetes and heart disease.

Our research tells us that in 2016 in NSW:

  • 22 per cent of children aged 5-16 years were above a healthy weight
  • only 26 per cent of children were active enough
  • 43 per cent spent more than two hours per day on TV and computer games
  • 45 per cent of children regularly drink sweetened drinks
  • 62 per cent of children eat enough fruit and only five per cent of children ate enough vegetables. 

How are we tracking?

So far, our programs have helped stabilise overweight and obesity rates in children in NSW to 21.9 per cent (247,000 children) in 2016.

By June 2025 we will have reduced overweight and obesity rates by five percentage points within 10 years. That means 62,000 more children who are a health weight in NSW. 

Programs to tackle childhood obesity

What are we doing?

Increasing community education and awareness

We will drive partnerships with key stakeholders to support children and young people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

We are emphasising the positive benefits of healthy eating and active living for the whole family. Right now, we are:

Healthy eating in school canteens

The healthy school canteen strategy focuses on increasing the availability of healthy food and drink options in school canteens to make the healthy choice. This includes introducing new simpler canteen guidelines for all of our schools with public schools transitioning over a three-year period (2017-19).

We agree there is more to do

Our next areas of focus are:

  • enhancing the Go4Fun® community-based program for Aboriginal families, and delivering an adapted program to regional and remote communities through face-to-face group discussions, online and over the phone
  • extending the Get Healthy in Pregnancy service to more people across NSW to all public maternity services
  • increasing access to sports by providing vouchers to subsidies the costs of participation
  • promoting uptake of new NSW weight management tool for health professionals
  • implementing a framework to provide healthy food and drinks in health facilities, for example hospitals. 

Case studies

Blackheath Public School – Healthy School Canteens

As part of the Premier’s Priority to reduce childhood obesity rates, the Department of Education has launched its Healthy School Canteens strategy to promote healthy eating in schools. The strategy aims to increase the availability of nutritious food and drink options in school canteens to encourage students to make healthy choices.

Health surveys show most Australian children need to make changes to their diet for their well-being, and to establish healthy eating practices in later years. With around half of all students buying their lunch at school at least once a week, school canteens play a vital role in educating children about healthy eating.

Blackheath Public School is one school that has a self-funded Healthy School Canteen. Produce grown by students at the school during gardening classes is used by the canteen to make healthy meals and educate children about where their food comes from. Volunteer involvement and cultural food days have also helped to foster a sense of community around the school’s canteen.

Canobolas Rural Technology High School – Café-style canteen

Canobolas Rural Technology High School provides students with a café-style menu and environment to purchase a range of healthy, freshly cooked food and drink. They show that adolescents will choose healthy foods when it is presented and promoted positively.

What can you do?

Get involved

Parents and carers can offer healthy food options and get active with their kids! Communities can also support healthy living by making sure there is access to fresh, affordable food and ways to encourage activity, such as safe playgrounds and cycleways.

Published 14th July, 2017