The issue of childhood obesity will be brought to the forefront next week, when some of Greater Shepparton’s most influential leaders gather for a two-day summit.
The summit will be facilitated by internationally recognised Professor Steven Allender, who is the founding director of Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre.
Among the leaders participating will be senior executives, board members and representatives from local government, health, sport, education and business organisations.
The centre collected data within 62 of the region’s primary schools last year, which will assist the community to develop and prioritise strategies to address childhood obesity.
The data included weight status as well as information about sweetened drink consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity and screen time.
Executive Craig Chadwick of the Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership, which will convene the summit, said the data had revealed a worrying trend.
‘‘The levels of overweight and obesity among the children in our community is too high, but there are also positives that have been highlighted such as the level of fruit consumption,’’ Mr Chadwick said.
The consequences of obesity are far reaching, not only on quality of life but to general health and the economy.
The issue is a major determinant of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer, and is currently costing the nation’s health system more than $21billion annually.
Professor Allender said the summit would help the community gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to childhood obesity and empower them to make changes that assist kids to eat healthier foods and be more active.
‘‘It is well known that obesity in childhood tracks into adulthood and the data shows those living in regional areas are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese than their city counterparts.” Professor Allender said.
‘‘Research shows that the trend can be reversed if communities work together to counteract unhealthy behaviours around lifestyle and diet.’’
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