Professor Donna Cross, from Edith Cowan University in Perth, said overweight and obesity rates in Australian children today are among the highest in the developed world with figures increasing steadily, especially among disadvantaged young children.
"It's a very serious health issue and this is the one of the first opportunities we've had in Australia to focus on what parents need to help them reduce overweight and obesity in their young children," she said.
Children who are obese are more negatively stigmatised than almost any other social group; they are more likely to be targets of peer bullying, have greater feelings of isolation and depression, lower self esteem, and higher levels of school absenteeism, Professor Cross said.
The research will ask stakeholders and parents about models of dealing with obesity in children, which has grown at an extraordinary rate in recent years. Australia is now on track to have similar levels to the United States where about 50 per cent of children are overweight.
"We are trying to find acceptable and appropriate ways to encourage parents to take action to keep their young children's weight in a healthy range. Being overweight at six years of age is a good indicator of the likelihood of being overweight in adulthood," she said.
Professor Cross' project is one of 12 projects around the nation funded by APHCRI, which is based at ANU, in its second major funding round for 2005.
The Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute was set up as part of a Federal Government strategy to improve the knowledge base in primary health care policy. This is the Institute's fourth funding round of research into prim
Contact: Amanda Morgan