Obesity Report Ignores Children: Expert

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2nd June 2009, 01:58pm - Views: 519

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Obesity report ignores children: expert 

Children have been forgotten in the plans outlined by a national obesity report

released last night, an RMIT University childhood obesity expert has warned.

Associate Professor Jeff Walkley said the House of Representatives health and

ageing committee’s report largely ignored young people.

“What’s missing from this report are targeted programs that hit every child in every

school – such as mandatory physical education or health classes,” Associate

Professor Walkley says.

“They’ve missed this opportunity to actually bring exercise and healthy eating

programs into the curriculum. 

“The few programs mentioned are voluntary and after-school, relying on the

initiative of families who choose to become involved, meaning they can only have

limited impact. They’ve forgotten the children – it’s staggering.

“The Federal Government until this year required that kids should get 120 minutes

of physical activity each week while at school, but that’s gone, while health and

physical education is yet to be included in the National Curriculum.

“Is this how we should treat our kids?”

Associate Professor Walkley, who leads RMIT’s successful Choose Health

research program for overweight teenagers, said a key recommendation in the

report – taxpayer-funded lap band surgery – posed serious risks.

“Gastric band surgery is a good option for morbidly obese people who have tried

everything else and are simply unable to lose weight,” he said.

“But you can’t just have a surgical solution to a behavioural problem. This kind of

surgery must come with intensive support to help people change their behaviour,

eat better food and increase their level of activity.

“If we do offer free gastric band surgery to morbidly obese Australians, we can

predict that there will be great pressure in future for this surgery to also be funded

for people who are only obese, or overweight.

“Surgery doesn’t just come with the risk of serious complications, it does not

address the behavioural issues that are at the heart of weight problems. Lap-band

surgery must only be the last resort, strictly limited to morbidly obese adults – not

just anyone who is struggling with their weight.”

For interviews: RMIT University’s Associate Professor Jeff Walkley, (03) 9925

7359 or 0407 345 525.

For general media enquiries: RMIT University Media and Communications,

Gosia Kaszubska, (03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.

2 June, 2009

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