Australian parents urged to get active amid rising child obesity rates

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-16 16:08:45|Editor: xuxin
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SYDNEY, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Parents need to lead by example when it comes to getting their kids active, according to a new research released on Tuesday, as Australia's childhood obesity rates reach crisis point.

Data from the Australian Sports Commission found children of adults who are not involved in any sporting activities are 50 percent less likely to play any sport.

The report revealed the direct correlation between a parent's lifestyle and their child's health, and Australian Sports Commission spokesperson Paul Fairweather told Xinhua on Tuesday, saying parents need to understand how their behavior can influence their child.

"There is a clear link between the behavior of parents and the behavior of kids, ultimately, active parents have active kids," Fairweather said.

"We know that people who are active are not just healthier, but happier too, and that's the same for children."

A nationwide survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission as part of the report into children's fitness, found children's participation in sport can vary according to the degree their parents are involved.

Nearly 90 percent of children with at least one parent who is physically active and volunteers in a sporting club are themselves, also participants in regular sport.

However, only 60 percent of children with one physically active parent who does not volunteer in sporting clubs, participate in sport.

The results show that not only are children influenced by whether or not their parents exercise, but also how involved they are in their child's sporting activities.

"The advice is to be active in some way, if you are a parent and are able to be involved in a sport, that's fantastic and if there's some way for you to be involved in their sporting clubs, that makes them even more active," Fairweather said.

Parental involvement can be as simple as cutting up fruit after sporting games, according to Fairweather, or even helping with uniforms.

These simple measures may prove useful, as Australia tries to battle its growing childhood obesity crisis, with more than 20 percent of Australian school-aged children now considered overweight or obese, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Two-thirds of Australian adults are considered overweight, prompting calls from health professionals to combat the epidemic by encouraging healthy lifestyles, especially in children.

Despite having a reputation for a love of the outdoors and sports, the Australian Sports Commission warns the "physical literacy" of Australian children is on the decline.

"By being more active you can benefit your own health, and also influence your children to love sport and exercise," Fairweather said.

"Australian children need active, sporty parents."

Associate Professor in Physical Activity and Childhood Obesity Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney explained to Xinhua on Tuesday, that part of the decline in the fitness of Australian children is due to "many schools putting less emphasis on physical education lessons," and stressed the blame can't be placed squarely on the parents of overweight children.

"Parents are very important role models for children so to a degree, this is expected but we shouldn't point the finger at them," Stamatakis said.

"We need to give children the opportunity to integrate exercise into their daily life, for example, through cycling or walking to school everyday, but this can't happen when we live in a country dominated by cars."

"This can only be achieved with policy change," he added.