A new study of 5407 students from 90 public schools in NSW, commissioned by the State Government has found that contrary to popular perception, children are exercising much harder, but still finding it more difficult than ever to lose weight.
Michael Booth, the University of Sydney doctor who conducted the statewide survey feels that in such a scenario, the main culprit is over-eating. This means that television advertising and toy giveaways must be limited and junk foods that promote junior sport must be avoided as far as possible. He adds that junior sport is "particularly insidious because in kids' minds Macca's is then associated with a healthy lifestyle." Dr Booth, the director of the university's NSW Center for Overweight and Obesity will now have the responsibility of looking at sponsors for junior sport. "This flies in the face of what I think was an urban myth that children were inactive," said Dr Booth.. "Like everyone else, I believed the urban myth ..." The survey found that 23 per cent of girls and 26 per cent of boys were obese in 2004 as against 20 percent in both sexes in 1997. Children aged four to 16 were exercising much harder. But were still overweight. Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, said: "What we really need is more responsible dietary behaviour from parents, from individuals and school canteens. I won't ... be demanding that they ban ads."