BMI

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  • The proportion of overweight and obese year 6 children seems to be stabilising, but is still high
  • Overweight and obese children have too much sedentary screen time compared to healthy weight children
  • This survey showed more overweight and obese children exceeded the recommended amount of sedentary screen time for year 6 children every week

Why is a child’s BMI status important

School.png Body Mass Index is a useful measure of overweight and obesity in children. These children have a greater risk of developing serious health problems such as asthma, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. They are also more likely to feel tired, become breathless after exercise, not cope with heat, and have body image, self-esteem and bullying issues.

How is a child’s BMI calculated?

Divide the child’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres)² to get a BMI score

How many year 6 children are overweight and obese?

  22% of year 6 children were identified as overweight or obese in 2012.

Where do we go from here?

Future surveys will provide further information about trends. Based on data so far we should keep reinforcing healthy exercise and eating habits. You will find lots of good ideas in these ACT Health programs:

 

Nutrition

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Vegetables
  • Most year 6 children eat enough fruit, and this is increasing over time
  • Not enough year 6 children eat sufficient vegetables, and this is decreasing over time
  • Fewer year 6 children are eating fast food regularly
  • Fewer year 6 children are eating unhealthy foods such as chips, lollies and cake every day
  • Fewer year 6 children are consuming soft drinks, cordials and sports drinks

Do our year 6 students eat enough fruit and vegetables?

Vegetables and fruit are good sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and other nutrients necessary for good health. They also play an important role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases including heartdisease and some cancers. Due to their low energy density, eating sufficient vegetables and fruit is important in helping to maintain a healthy weight. When the children completed this survey in 2012, the Australian Dietary Guidelines advised they should eat 1 serve of fruit and 3 serves of vegetables every day. Based on these guidelines:

  • 82% of year 6 children eat enough fruit every day
  • 56% of year 6 children eat enough vegetables every day.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines changed in 2013 and now recommend 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day for 11 year old children.

Comparing fruit and vegetable consumption for 11 year old children over time shows they are now eating more fruit but fewer vegetables.

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What about unhealthy foods?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines refer to foods that are not an essential part of a healthy diet as “discretionary” foods. These foods and drinks are low in essential nutrients and high in saturated fat, added sugars and/or salt. They can contribute excess kilojoules (calories) to the diet leading to unhealthy weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Where do we go from here?

Future surveys will provide further information about trends. Based on these results we should continue to implement population health and school based programs that:

  • reinforce healthy eating habits including healthier ways to eat out
  • increase the amount of vegetables children eat
  • reduce the amount of unhealthy foods children eat and drink.

You will find lots of good ideas in these ACT Health programs:

Physical Activity

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  • Not enough year 6 children get enough exercise every day
  • Not enough year 6 children actively travel to school
  • Most year 6 children play an organised sport
  • Most year 6 children have too much sedentary screen time

How much physical activity does a year 6 child need?

They need at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. Moderate exercise might be active play or riding a bike or scooter. Vigorous exercise might be running or playing sport.

How active are our year 6 children overall?

PA image1 19% get enough exercise every day.
PA image2 0% get enough exercise for 4 days a week.

How active are our year 6 children at school?

PA image3 Most year 6 children (88%) participate in at least 2 sessions of physical education at school every week. 
PA image4 38% get at least 4 hours of exercise every week, which is higher than for previous years.

How active are our year 6 children outside school?

PA image5 Most year 6 children (73%) play an organised sport, and are spending more time doing this activity.
PA image6 39% get at least 4 hours of exercise every week, which isn’t very different to previous years.

Do many year 6 children actively travel to school?

  • About 25% of year 6 children actively travel to school, and this number has decreased over time.
  • Children who actively travel either walk (56%) or ride their bike (30%) or scooter (4%) to school.

How many year 6 children exceed the guidelines for sedentary screen time?

Sedentary screen time (screen-based activities for entertainment e.g. computer, tablet, television or game console) should be less than 2 hours of accumulated time each day for year 6 children

  • 53% of year 6 children exceed the guidelines on weekends
  • 30% exceed the guidelines during weekdays
  • Children identified as overweight or obese according to their Body Mass Index (BMI) have too much sedentary screen time compared to healthy weight children.

Where do we go from here?

Future surveys will provide further information about physical activity trends. Based on these results we should continue to implement population health and school based programs that:

  • encourage school children to exercise and move more
  • help them reduce sedentary screen time, particularly on weekends
  • encourage active travel to school.

You will find lots of good ideas in these ACT Health programs:

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