3. Management and prevention of obesity and its complications in children and adolescents

Jennifer A Batch and Louise A Baur
Med J Aust 2005; 182 (3): 130-135.


  • Obesity in children and adolescents has reached alarming levels — 20%–25% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and 4.9% of boys and 5.4% of girls are obese.

  • Rates of obesity have increased significantly in Australia from 1985 to 1995, with the prevalence of overweight doubling and obesity trebling.

  • Body mass index (related to reference standards for age and sex) is recommended as a practical measure of overweight and obesity in children, and is used in monitoring individual progress in clinical practice.

  • Obesity in childhood and adolescence may be associated with a range of medical and psychological complications, and can predispose individuals to serious health problems in adult life, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

  • Obesity interventions for which there is some evidence include family support, a developmentally appropriate approach, long-term behaviour modification, dietary change, and increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour.

  • Prevention of obesity in children and adolescents requires a range of strategies involving changes in both the microenvironment (eg, housing, neighbourhoods, recreational opportunities) and the macroenvironment (eg, food marketing, transport systems, urban planning).

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  • Jennifer A Batch1
  • Louise A Baur2

  • 1 Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 2 The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.

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