Kiwi Children Fat And Fatter!

Kiwi young people are ‘packing on the pounds’ and has become a national concern.

According to an article in The Christchurch Press, more than a third of New Zealand’s youth are spending five hours a day in front of the television. Studies reveal in a world-wide study by a New Zealand Medical Research Institute of close to 300,000 children and teens, of which 5800 were Kiwi young people – particularly teenage girls – that those who watch television were likely to be overweight or obese.

And this is only the television. There is added to this other screen-based entertainments such as video games and social networking. A further 38 percent said they watched one to three hours of these games/networks.

The leading author of the study, Dr Irene Braithwaite, commented that with our young people watching three hours or more a day of television is very concerning and it is a recognition that parents need to be aware of how much their children are watching this thing.

In the world-wide study, it was discovered that New Zealand had the second-highest number of overweight or obese children of the 37 countries studied, with only Mexican children tipping the scales higher. Disturbing to say the least.

The article reveals that a quarter of the young Kiwi’s in the study were dangerously overweight on the body mass index, which measures body fat according to height and weight. The link was stronger in teenage girls, with those who watched five hours a day 45 per cent more likely to be fat.

Researchers did not necessarily look at why TV viewing and obesity were linked, but for the teenage girls, hormonal changes were thought to be a factor, and that girls exercised less than boys of the same age.

But another voice from public health, consultant Robert Quigley, has reviewed more than 20 previous studies, and says junk food advertising promoted obesity in those who watched more television.

"You think it's because they're a couch potato, but it's actually about how advertising changes their diet. They're watching marketing of low-quality food, or junk food - sugary drinks, chips, fast foods. It creates desirability, brand awareness, and when you're in the supermarket children want it, as do adults."

There is an added dilemma with the excess weight. It often doesn’t come alone. Excess weight leads to health problems such as type 2 diabetes as well. Capital & Coast District Health Board diabetes nurse, Tess Clark said the increase in the number of children she was seeing with obesity-related type 2 diabetes was heartbreaking. "There's nothing wrong with limiting their screen time, and I encourage parents to do that. Having a game of backyard cricket instead, or walking with them to school, can make all the difference."

The child obesity rate has increased from 8 per cent in 2006-2007 to 10 per cent in 2011-2012, Ministry of Health's annual report data shows. This is quite a significant jump in only a few short years.
~Reference; The Press, Christchurch, 12/11/13