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Youth overweight and obesity

Although there is news media coverage of these issues, there remains a limited understanding of the causes of overweight and obesity, and how young people are affected within the general Australian population. As part of the Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies (ACYS) Face the Facts series, this briefing package aims to bring to the attention of decision-makers some of the key statistics, policy implications and opportunities relating to youth and overweight and obesity, and to raise the importance of these issues.

Snapshot - provides key statistics and an overview of the issues and policy implications.

Briefing - goes into greater detail about the issues involved, and includes information on current research, programs and organisations working in this area.


The information below provides additional information to the briefing package, with links to organisations, policy and news related to youth overweight and obesity. 

Organisations and programs

Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS)

ANZOS is a scientific organisation of medical practitioners, dietitians, scientists and other health care professionals interested in obesity research, treatment or public health initiatives directed at the prevention of obesity.


Australian Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Network (ACAORN)

ACAORN coordinates research collaboration among Australian child and adolescent obesity research groups.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is Australia's national agency for health and welfare statistics and information. 

Website: www.aihw.gov.au

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

The AMA is the representative body for registered medical practitioners and medical students. 


Australian Medical Association - Youth Health

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has prepared information about youth health and wellbeing issues.  Links to policy related resources are also provided.


Australian National Preventive Health Agency

Promoting a Healthy Australia (the Australian National Preventive Health Agency) is committed to improving health outcomes for all Australians.  In partnership with the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments, the Agency is driving the national capacity for change and innovation around preventive health policies and programs.  


Cancer Council

As Australia's peak national non-government cancer control organisation, Cancer Council Australia advises the Australian Government and other bodies on practices and policies to help prevent, detect and treat cancer. We also advocate for the rights of cancer patients for best treatment and supportive care. 


Department of Health and Ageing

policy advising, improving program management, research, regulation and partnerships with other government agencies, consumers and stakeholders. 

Website: www.health.gov.au

Diabetes Australia

Diabetes Australia is a national federated body comprising state and territory organisations supporting people with diabetes and those professional and research bodies particularly concerned with the treatment and prevention of diabetes. 


Heart Foundation Australia

The Heart Foundation is dedicated to reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease in Australia, which includes helping to minimise the number of people living with, or dying from heart, stroke and blood vessel disease.


International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO)

IASO is the leading global professional organisation concerned with obesity and operates in more than 50 countries around the world, with a mission to improve global health.


International Obesity Task Force (IOTF)

In collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the IOTF’s mission is to inform the world about the urgency of the (obesity) problem.


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Obesity Study

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) is conducting a study focused on combating obesity and weight problems in teenagers.

The program, which is based on a similar program successfully trialled in the US, will recruit participants between the ages of 12 - 17 years and requires them to undertake weekly online sessions, where they can also log their food diary and record activity levels.  A confidential discussion board is also available to allow participants to support one another as they work through the sessions. The teenagers involved in the 12 week program will also be sent reminder text messages and words of encouragement throughout the study. 


National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

The NHMRC onsolidates within a single national organisation the often independent functions of research funding and development of advice. It aims to bring together and draw upon the resources of all components of the health system.


National Preventative Health Taskforce

The Preventative Health Taskforce provides evidence-based advice to government and health providers – both public and private – on preventative health programs and strategies, and support the development of a National Preventative Health Strategy. The Taskforce includes members from all areas of health, and cover all aspects of health-related issues, including those that affect young people.


Nutrition Australia

The mission of Nutrition Australia is to promote optimal health for all Australians by encouraging food variety and physical activity. 


Obese Nation

The Conversation, an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector, featured the issue of obesity in a collection of research reporting, commentary and special features. 


Obesity Policy Coalition

The objectives of the Obesity Policy Coalition are to identify, analyse and advocate for evidence-based policy and regulatory initiatives to reduce overweight and obesity, particularly in children, at a local, state and national level.


Obesity Prevention Australia

The mission of Obesity Prevention Australia is to reduce the incidence of obesity and metabolic syndrome in Australia while raising awareness of healthy lifestyle practices through preventative initiatives. 


Obesity and Population Health Research Unit (OPHRU)

Based at Monash University, the OPHRU research program aims to build the evidence base for public health policy regarding the prevention of obesity and its consequent diseases.

http://www.med.monash.edu.au/ epidemiology/ophru/index.html

The Parents' Jury

The Parents' Jury is an online network of parents, grandparents and guardians, who are interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children. The Parents' Jury is an initiative of Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia – Vic, the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, VicHealth and YMCA Victoria. 



The Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council and Department of Health and Ageing have developed the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which provide advice on healthy eating to promote good health and wellbeing.


Policy information 

Overweight and obesity policies are difficult to assess as the issues are generally addressed in policies targeting general health. 

However, since 2008, the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) has released an annual league table on how the states and territories are performing in obesity prevention (ANZOS 2011) in order to encourage governments to prioritise action on obesity.


News and events

Australian Bureau of Statistics is conducting largest survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

This survey will expand on the 2004-05 survey by increasing the number of participants by 30%, collecting new information on a range of health issues; and for the first time, obesity and blood pressure levels, as well as nutritional status and chronic disease, will be directly measured. Original article

No fad diet: family-based program promises long-lasting weight loss for obese children

Bright Bodies, a family-based program created by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine for urban children in the US, shows promising results in addressing childhood obesity. Original article

Can an obesity prevention program prevent bulimia – and pay for itself?

Planet Health, a school curriculum in the UK promoting good nutrition and physical activity, is known to reduce both obesity and eating disorders. Now a new analysis estimates that the intervention may even save money by preventing teenage girls from developing bulimia. Original article

Two thirds of obese children have heart disease risk factors

Two out of three severely obese kids already have at least one risk factor for heart disease, suggests research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood. Original article

Childhood obesity: Are parents really to blame?

Joining in on the debate in Victoria of whether childhood obesity should be considered a child protection issue, this article asks whether body shape and size should be an indicator of moral worth.  Original article

Study shows full health effects of obesity not felt until adolescence

While obesity can be identified in Australian children as young as two years old, many of the health effects associated with the condition don't emerge until the adolescent years, according to new research by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Original article

Long wait prompted innovative obesity study

Associate Professor Joanne Williams from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has begun recruiting for an innovative internet-based weight management study which is focused on combating obesity and weight problems in teenagers. Original article

A local council tackles the youth alcohol problem

Blue Mountains City Council has adopted an action plan to reduce problems caused by young people drinking to excess in the Blue Mountains. The plan calls for the combined action of liquor outlets, police, the community sector and government agencies. Original article

06 Dec 2012

Housing assistance in Australia 2012

This report looks at housing assistance in the government, not-for-profit and private sector segments in Australia in 2011-12. Original article

06 Dec 2012

Effective interventions for working with young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness

 The aim of a recent review was to assess the current state of evidence about what interventions are most effective in working with young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Original article

06 Dec 2012

Disabled youth more abused than others

Children and young adults with disabilities are three times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect than their peers without disabilities, according to a policy paper released on Tuesday. Original article

06 Dec 2012

An uncertain road ahead - Young people leaving care in Tasmania

This report from the Commissioner for Children in Tasmania looks at the experiences of young people who have left state care - their reasons for leaving and transition to independence.  Original article

05 Dec 2012

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