SUGAR HIGH: Sugary sweets and other unhealthy treats are contributing to the large number of obese children in the Central Highlands region.
SUGAR HIGH: Sugary sweets and other unhealthy treats are contributing to the large number of obese children in the Central Highlands region. Istock

Fatty food ruining kids

ACCORDING to a CQ nutritionist, the large number of fast-food outlets and lack of facilities in the Central Highlands region are contributing to the region's high level of obesity in children.

Dietitian Chris Hughes said he was not surprised to find out 27.2 per cent of CQ kids are obese.

"It's an unfortunate statistic that's not getting any better,” Mr Hughes said.

"The easy accessibility and large amount of fast- food chains in the region has a significant role to play.

"I get my coffee from McDonald's when I am in Emerald or Blackwater because I know I can get one quick, it's just convenient for me and that's what they are selling.

"Also, compared to inner cities and metropolitan areas, the facilities are not quite up to par.

"I think encouraging riding to work is a good start, I know in Brisbane they've got cycle centres in the inner city where people can ride to work, lock their bike and have showers.

"Emerald has quite a potential district there where that could be possible.”

While there are plenty of parents who do make a good effort, Mr Hughes said parents needed to realise what they have at home is what their kids are eating.

"Parents need to encourage as much healthy eating and activity as possible,” he said.

"The most significant thing a family could do is try to limit the discretionary foods at home.

"I'm a big believer in restricting the frequency they eat and the best way to do that is not have access to discretionary foods 24/7.

"The stuff you want at home is fruits, nuts, vegetables, lean meats and yoghurt, it's not as expensive as people make it out to be.”

According to Mr Hughes, type 2 diabetes is growing in children. Traditionally a condition adults were burdened with, now we are seeing it in kids as young as 10, even younger.

"I've had young teenagers with high cholesterol, which generally takes many years to develop,” he said.

"Our diet is the problem, we eat nowhere near enough vegetables or fruit.”

While Mr Hughes believes mandatory testing for type 2 diabetes in regional emergency rooms is a good idea, he also believes there needs to be more focus on prevention.

"I think mandatory testing for type 2 diabetes is one of many measures we should be doing, we really need to educate children about food and this needs to happen now,” he said.



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