THE number of Australian's battling the bulge is fast increasing, with health experts calling it an 'obesity epidemic'.
According to new figures by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the number of overweight and obese Australian adults has almost doubled in the last two decades.
This has made us one of the fattest nations in the world, closely following that of the USA.
As children eat what their parents eat, in particular fast food, there is also an alarming increase in childhood obesity.
Aside from genetic factors, overweight and obesity is caused by an energy imbalance, where energy intake exceeds energy expenditure over a considerable period of time.
Therefore good nutrition and adequate levels of physical activity play an important role in the prevention of further weight gain throughout the life cycle.
It is generally agreed by health experts that this energy imbalance is due to large scale changes in the modern environment.
In children there is evidence that factors early in life have the potential to contribute to the development of obesity later in life.
Parents can improve their child's chance at a healthy adult life in a number of ways.
A healthy weight can be maintained by balancing the amount of energy going into a child's body (as food and drink) and the energy being used (for a child's body to function and grow and physical activity).
Eating a balanced diet and leading a physically active lifestyle can help maintain a healthy weight.
Plan for healthy snacks and provide options such as fruit and vegetables, instead of snacks that are high in fat and low in essential nutrients.