Childhood overweight and obesity
It is very important to prevent and manage obesity in a school aged children. A significant health risk faced by obese young people is that they have a greater chance of being obese adults and are at increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing in children and adolescents. Other problems include sleep disturbances, heat intolerance, breathlessness when active, tiredness and flat feet. Obesity in childhood and adolescence is also linked with emotional concerns and social isolation, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem.
When to respond to an overweight or obese student?
Schools have student support structures and procedures in place and understand when to contact parents to notify a concern. This could include students with a suspected eating disorder, as well as students with rapid weight gain and where a student's weight is impacting on their social and emotional development or on their learning.
Parents should take their child to their general practitioner or paediatrician if they think they may have a weight problem. Fact sheets on obesity can be found at Kids Health for more information.
Schools promote healthy lifestyles
Schools play an important role in promoting and encouraging healthy eating and physical activity for their students. A whole of school approach involving parents, carers and the broader school community is supported. There are a range of policies, practices and programs to assist schools.
- Schools implement the Nutrition in Schools policy. This policy outlines actions for schools for consistent modelling of healthy eating practices across all areas of food and drink provision within the school context.
- School canteens are required to implement the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy to provide healthy nutritious food options for students.
- Students learn about healthy lifestyles in the classroom, particularly in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education.
- School sport and planned physical education is a compulsory part of the curriculum.
- Information about a range of healthy lifestyle programs for schools can be found in the Teachers & Childcare tab at the healthy kids website.
The Teaching healthy eating to primary school students - A review of evidence and best practice found that teaching strategies and resources that are cross-curricular and that provide students with opportunities to participate in experiential learning, as most effective for teaching healthy eating to primary school students. Two reports have been developed from this review, with funding provided by NSW Health:
- Short report (PDF 458kB)- summarises the evidence and key finding for schools and resource developers.
- Full report (PDF 867kB) - provides the full methodology used to analyse and synthesise the findings. The full report also includes tabulated lists of available healthy eating resources and the strategies and approaches used in their delivery.
For Ms word versions of these reports please phone (02) 9244 5130.